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Bud Shank: Change is Good

By Published: August 30, 2007
AAJ: While no longer as rare, jazz flute is still in the minority. I can only name four flautists off the top of my head (Eric Dolphy, Frank Foster, James Moody, Yusef Lateef). How did you come to the instrument? Your tone on flute seems to posses an almost classical clarity, how long did you work to achieve that? In the late '80s you stopped your flute playing to concentrate solely on alto. How long before you noticed a change in your playing?

BS: Instantly. Did you ever hear of Harry Klee, Holly Hoffman and Hubert Laws? There are lots of them out there. The classical sound of my flute results from years of study with classical teachers. I've made several albums as a classical flutist. I have done several recitals as a classical flutist. I played for many years with film orchestras as second flutist, depending upon the composer. As referred to earlier, when the occasion required I was a classical flutist.

AAJ: You had a stint in the marines. While doing your tour, did the music completely stop? How long was your tour?

BS: Everything stopped. Life stopped. Wife stopped. Music stopped. Fortunately it only lasted three or four months. By this time I was almost twenty-five years old, I was discharged for the same visual problem that kept me out of the army when I was eighteen.

AAJ: The next group you were in was Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars. He had been with both Stan Kenton and Charlie Barnet. Did you know him from those gigs or did you meet after? The names of those who filled the band's roster read like a West Coast who's who. How long were you in the band? What was the band's book like? There was one record made in 1962 then no further recording activity. Did the band formally dissolve? In the 1980s there was a reunion with concerts and recordings. With the passage of time and wisdom of age, was the experience much different than what it had initially been?

Bud Shank ></a><br /><br /><strong>BS:</strong> Howard Rumsey was way before me on the Kenton Band and the Barnet Band. I don't remember when I first met him. I don't know the discographies you are looking at but I was with Lighthouse group from early 1953 until January of 1956. I was probably on eight to ten albums while I worked there. I don't know anything about a record made in 1962.<br /><br /><P><br /><br />The

The Hermosa Lighthouse (which still exists) closed in the mid-'60s, Howard then opened the Redondo Beach Lighthouse which was active for a few years. For a complete history get a copy of the new DVD about the Lighthouse by Ken Koenig. It is good and it is correct.

I put together, in the early '90s, a version if the Lighthouse All Stars. It was a group of eight players and was too expensive for most concert promoters. In addition, Shorty Rogers assumed it was his band which created many internal problems.

AAJ: During this time too, you were also fronting your own smaller ensembles (quartet). Was this your first go at being sole leader of a group? Did you experience any resentment from your other gig?

BS: I left the Lighthouse in January 1956 to form my own quartet with Claude Williamson, Don Prell and Chuck Flores. We stayed together (with a couple of changes) until 1959, I think.

AAJ: Your band cut some albums for Pacific Jazz, you also did a movie soundtrack during this time The Barefoot Adventure, (Pacific Jazz, 1961), the recording of which was slightly unorthodox. Was this your first soundtrack?

BS: I made several LPs with this group. I did two surfing movie scores: Slippery When Wet (World Pacific, 1960) and The Barefoot Adventure. The producer/director/narrator was Bruce Brown. The only thing "unorthodox about it was that the narration was done live along with the tape of the music soundtrack. It was later put on a "sound stripe on 35 mm film. They are now on video tape.

AAJ: Although not always cited as such, you were among the first to fuse jazz with Brazilian music. How had you come to the music? It seems like once the Brazilian fever took off, everybody was cutting a samba album. Did this eventually turn you off the music? In the late 1980s you went back to Brazilian music on the album Tomorrow's Rainbow (Contemporary, 1988). What dictates when you revisit a musical style or play with former cohorts?

BS: My interest in Brazilian music started with my association with Laurindo Almeida of the Kenton Orchestra. Later, in 1953 or '54, Harry Babasin (bassist) came up with the idea of adding a saxophonist to a trio he had with Laurindo and drummer Roy Harte, thus the Laurindo Almeida Quartet. Years later, Ray Brown and I started the THE L.A. 4. My interest in the music of Brazil has been ever-increasing. I was in Brazil in 1966, 2004, 2006 and am returning in September of 2007.

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