Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Clifford Everett Shank Jr, 27 May 1926, Dayton OH; d 2 April 2009, Tucson AZ) Alto sax, flute; also baritone sax, composer. He began on clarinet at ten, attended the U. of North Carolina, played with Charlie Barnet, Alvino Rey, Art Mooney; relocated to the West Coast by 1947, he studied with Shorty Rogers and played with Stan Kenton. He became a regular at Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach and a mainstay of West Coast jazz, recording with the Lighthouse All-Stars, Kenton, Rogers, Bob Cooper, Jimmy Giuffre, Shelly Manne, Chet Baker, Laurindo Almeida, Gerry Mulligan, Gerald Wilson, Julie London, many more. Studio work in the 1960s included film scores Slippery When Wet '59, Barefoot Adventure '61, War Hunt '62; he played flute on the Mamas and the Papas' classic pop hit 'California Dreamin' ', and solo spots in soundtracks including Assault On A Queen '66, The Thomas Crown Affair '68, Summer Of '42 '71, etc, as well as concerts and clinics at colleges.

Nearly 30 albums as a leader on World Pacific/Pacific Jazz '54-70 were mostly small-group sets, always with excellent sidemen; Shank's rhythmic verve, incisiveness and emotional force were just the qualities that West Coast jazz was said not to have. He led a quartet in Los Angeles clubs in the 1950s; tracks from 10-inch LPs '54-5 later on 12-inch The Saxophone Artistry Of Bud Shank included tracks with Bobby Brookmeyer and a rare intelligent use of a string section with improvising artists, e.g. on the exploding square dance 'Rustic Hop'. Live At The Haig '56 on Choice and other labels with pianist Claude Williamson was an early stereo recording; there were two others on World Pacific that year called The Bud Shank Quartet. New Groove '61 on Pacific Jazz was first class, with Carmell Jones on trumpet (b 19 July 1936, Kansas City KS; d 7 November 1996), Dennis Budimir on guitar, Gary Peacock and Mel Lewis, tracks including 'Well, You Needn't', one of the all-time best non-Monk performances of a Monk tune, the sort of tunes West Coasters weren't thought to play. Surfing movies Slippery When Wet and Barefoot Adventure were among the few films that had good jazz in the soundtrack, while Shank's collaborations with Almeida contained more jazz than most subsequent bossa nova outings. Jazz and the West Coasters in particular becoming even less fashionable in the '60s, there were albums of pop songs '66-7: Michelle, with Baker on flugelhorn and arranged by Bob Florence, reached no. 56 in the pop LP chart. He also made Brazil '65 on Capitol with Sergio Mendes.

With studio work to keep him busy and presumably bored with playing pop songs and film themes, he took a break from prolific recording until the small-group scene began to revive, then co-formed the L.A. 4 in 1974 with Manne, Almeida and Ray Brown (albums on Concord Jazz, some with Jeff Hamilton on drums) and began recording again as leader, all but abandoning the flute and re-emerging as the first-class player he was all along. Sunshine Express '76, Heritage '78, Crystal Comments '79, Explorations 1980 were on Concord Jazz, all except the first with pianist/composer Bill Mays, the last a duo with Shank and Mays playing Mays's suite for flute and piano as well as pieces by Bach, Ravel, Debussy, Scriabin. Shank's Brazilville '81 on Concord included Charlie Byrd. Shades Of Dring '81 on Cambria was chamber jazz arranged by Lennie Niehaus; This Bud's For You '84 on Muse had Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Al Foster on drums; California Concert '85 was a quintet set with Rogers and At Jazz Alley '86 a quartet, both on Contemporary.

The revived Candid label issued The Doctor Is In '91, I Told You So! '94, and New Gold! '95 (with Conte Candoli, Bill Perkins and Jack Nimitz); Meets The Rhythm Section '96 with Cyrus Chestnut, George Mraz and Lewis Nash was on Milestone.