Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Remembering Bud Shank

Bud Shank's name entered my world at a very early age. My parents were Bud fans and had a few of his albums. In my post-toddler years, I probably remembered the alto sax player's name because it sounded onomatopoeic, in the same way as "oop bop sh'bam." In fact, it sounded quite a bit like the noises that our stereo would make as it was preparing to play a record. The gears would move and there would be a bunch of clicking sounds before - "sh-BANK" - the spindle dropped the record onto the turntable. (This sound is documented for all to hear at the beginning and end of my band Bone of Contention's second album/first CD Stay Calm, by the way.) So that noise was kind of like a re-spelling of Bud's name.

We had a copy of Bud's album I Hear Music, which had the same picture as the one seen here, of Bud laying on the Sunday comics with his alto.

Except the photo on I Hear Music was used vertically, kind of losing something in translation. The record was made of cheap plastic and there was a pretty serious crack through half of the vinyl. I always tried to line up the pieces in hopes of getting it to play, but the drop from the spindle always separated them, and thwarted me.
The only other Shank album I recall the folks having was his a later, more commercial album: California Dreaming, which I would later realize was funny because Bud's flute takes the solo in the original version by the Mamas and the Papas. I have no recollection of this album, but I'm sure I threw it on once or twice.
My next real Bud memory came about 20 years ago when my mum unearthed a bunch of 10"s that had been stashed in the basement for about the previous 15 years, probably to make sure us kids didn't trash them. Along with a copy of Chet Baker Sings there was a copy of Bud's 10" on Nocturne, The Compositions of Shorty Rogers. I tried finding the image to post here because it's priceless: Bud standing stoically with alto in hand, with a buzzcut that made him look like he could've been a member of a '90s band like Naked Raygun. Funny how your musical tastes can cross over into your parents' world, with a few added bonuses.
I bought a used copy of I Hear Music a few years ago. It's actually a cheapo compilation, but it's still damn good.
I was sad to hear that Bud passed away last week, due to a lung ailment. This is my personal reminiscence on him. I might add an entry assessing his career, but it has to start with the personal jazz.

No comments: