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Jake Fryer/Bud Shank Quintet: In Good Company

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This album will likely bring more attention to Jake Fryer but that will come in part from the fact that In Good Company will be known as the album Bud Shank recorded the day before he passed away. This doesn’t mean that the British musician (like Shank, an alto saxophonist) is using his elder’s death as his meal ticket. But it does overshadow the session just a bit.

On the flipside, the album proves that up until the very end, Shank’s head was crammed with strong melodic ideas that placed him above the category of typical West Coast jazz players. His execution might not have kept up with his brain at all times, but even when he fumbles a little, the fire never dims. As an example, during his solo in the opening charge of “Caravan,” Shank misses a high interval and emits an accidental squeak, which he weaves into the solo without losing his focus. Fryer comes across as an equally fleet-fingered soloist who serves as a good foil to Shank. (“Breaking Loose” serves as an appropriate title to one original, considering his performance and how gruff he gets in that tune.). A close listen might be needed to distinguish the younger and older altos since they aren’t strictly separated by channels, which goes a long way towards proving Fryer’s abilities.

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