The saying that it is never too late holds true for Bud Shank and Phil Woods. Both are now in their seventies and have notched several impressive milestones along the way. It was only in the very recent past that they came together, first on a jazz cruise and then during concerts in the USA, Holland and Canada. A live date at Yoshi's fermented the idea for a recording. The timing, however, coincided with the presence of Bill Mays and Joe La Barbera, who were with them on road and sea, on another cruise contract. In came Mike Wofford and Bill Goodwin, and after rehearsals, the rough spots were cleared and the band put down the first recorded collaboration between Woods and Shank.
The music here found its way from performances that ranged over three nights. The repertoire is the perfect construct for listening: plenty of swing, a ballad, and a Brazilian tune that lend balance and diversity. The main men are right up front, Shank often brawny and edgy, Woods lighter but cavorting with a healthy zeal, traits they manifest right up front as they go "Bouncing With Bud. Could they have found a better groove? Both dig deep and revel in the passage of the song, opening separate paths after they tread the opening together. Shank is burnished swing, notes that jut in and punctuate and then go off on a roll. Woods delivers his notes tumbling forth, a surge of ideas that sing with a trenchant passion as he weaves in, through, and out of the musical landscape.
The lilt of Brazil emerges on "Carousels, the rhythm flexed by drummer Bill Goodwin; Shank takes the improvisation into a deeper core before returning to the melody and letting it traipse out of his horn. Mike Wofford adds a lighter shade with some ruminative and lyrical playing before Woods gives it a different contour with snaky lines. The atmosphere is serene on "Summer Serenade, a ballad that shines in the hands of the band as they elevate the sense of emotion that gives the song a becoming passion.
This meeting between Shank and Woods makes for engaging listening.
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