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Bud Shank: The Pacific Jazz Bud Shank Studio Sessions

Compared with the harrowing biographies of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Stan Getz, and Art Pepper, the story of Bud Shank’s career would hardly raise an eyebrow. Born to middle-class affluence and musical talent, Bud’s single problem, and not a very rare one at that, was that he had difficulty in focusing his right eye in the same direction as his left. Although surgically corrected in 1976, when he was 50, this comparatively minor disability, because it was perceived as a social impediment, had a striking effect on his youthful personality, causing him to be shy and introverted and, by his own account, rather restrained in his playing. In his generous confidences to annotator Doug Ramsey, Bud reveals much about the important role that self-image plays in determining the way that a creative musician shapes his style. could it be that what used to be called an inferiority complex may account for the basic differences between emotionally reserved players and those with more outgoing, aggressive styles?

Whatever the answer to that question, the evidence on this present collection suggests that during the period starting around 1956, when Bud was still a nationally known poster boy for the so-called “West Coast Cool” movement, and culminating in 1960s, when he began incorporating elements of hard bop into his playing and writing, , a violent sea change had taken place within him. Bud had gone from being a highly competent but relatively conservative improviser in the Pres cum Bird mode to become a player ready to embrace some of the imperatives being declaimed, loudly and viscerally, a continent’s breadth away.

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