Bud Shank Biography

Clifford Everett Shank Jnr., 27 May 1926, Dayton, Ohio, USA. After studying and gigging on most of the reed instruments, Shank concentrated on alto saxophone, later doubling on flute and baritone saxophone. From 1947 he was resident on the west coast, playing in the big bands of Charlie Barnet, Alvino Rey, Art Mooney and Stan Kenton but making his greatest impact in small groups. With Shorty Rogers, Milt Bernhart, Bob Cooper, Art Pepper and Shelly Manne, he was one of the tightly knit group of Los Angeles-based musicians who formed the nucleus of the white west coast jazz scene of the 50s. As a member of the Lighthouse All-Stars and groups recording under the names of one or another of the leaders of the movement, Shank built a substantial reputation. He also recorded with Laurindo Almeida, beginning an association that was renewed several years later with the formation of the L.A. 4 (also featuring Ray Brown and Jeff Hamilton).

Although active in the film and television studios during the 50s and 60s, Shank continued to make jazz dates, and with increasing frequency. In 1974 he was a founder member of the L.A. Four. In the early 80s, by then wholly engaged in jazz, he toured as a single and also with Rogers, appearing in the UK with the Vic Lewis big band and recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Shank’s extensive recorded output over four decades allows an interesting examination of his development as a musician. His early alto playing was derivative of Charlie Parker and Art Pepper, while his flute playing, taken up during his stint with Kenton, was highly original and greatly advanced the use of the instrument in bebop settings. In later years his alto style became highly personalized and no longer showed influences outside of his own creative impulse. Indeed, by the mid-80s he had abandoned his other instruments in order to concentrate fully on alto. At the age of 80, Shank formed his first ever band as leader, an astonishing feat of patience.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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