In his liner notes to Bouncing With Bud & Phil, Doug Ramsey makes an interesting point that both of these living legend altoists are the musical offspring of Charlie Parker, even though their home bases are located in California/the Pacific Northwest and the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, respectively.
Bud Shank was recognized as a pivotal sax and flute figure in the West Coast jazz movement during the 1950s and '60s, while Phil Woods' decades of soulful playing stimulated the growth of bebop through his session and studio work, as well as recordings made with his own groups during that same time period. Shank's flute work made him one of the most recognized of the West Coast reedmen, and his participation in the Brazilliance session in 1953 with Laurindo Almeida was the first example of bossa nova influencing American recordings.
Historically, these two altoists have worked with in tandem with others, including Phil Woods' albums with Gene Quill in the '50s and Shank's appearances with Art Pepper. Although Bud Shank no longer plays flute (he suffers from arthritis in the left shoulder and carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands), his work on alto sax has become increasingly edgier and far removed from his "cool" image of the 1950s, as evidenced by his '90s recordings for Candid and Concord.
The idea for this session and the ensuing tour (both appeared at New York City's Iridium club in early July, 2005) began with this recording at Yoshi's in Oakland in November, 2004. The other players are the always reliable Mike Wofford (piano) and Bob Magnusson (bass), both mainstays of the current West Coast jazz scene. Phil Woods' long time percussionist Bill Goodwin plays drums.
The live set is a delight to hear, with numbers like Bud Powell's "Bouncing With Bud" and Gigi Gryce's "Minority" serving as musical bookends and opportunities for the two saxmen to go head-to-head. Other numbers highlight their individual skills. A lengthy take of "Nature Boy" allows a beauty of an outing by Shank, while Woods' version of Benny Carter's "Summer Serenade" is an evocative ballad. Another highlight is the fourteen-minute Mays composition "Gemma's Eyes," which shows both of the saxmen to their best advantage. Wofford provides sturdy support with feeling throughout the album, and tasty solos as well, while Magnusson and Goodwin are also exemplary.