Bud Shank: Over the Rainbow


Over the Rainbow


Bud Shank (alto sax)


Fascinating Rhythm (Jazzed Media 1045)

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Bud Shank (alto sax), Bill Mays (piano), Bob Magnusson (bass), Joe La Barbera (drums).

Composed by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg


Recorded: Live at the Jazz Bakery, Culver City, January 29-31, 2009


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

The doctors told him no driving, no flying. Even on ground, he required a wheelchair to get around. Yet Bud Shank continued to play and perform at a high level, and had lost none of his passion, his humor, his frankness, whether playing the horn or in his other dealings with the world around him. When I had lunch with him a few months before his death, Shank told me how much he still enjoyed playing the old songs, and talked about the inspiration he could find in the same standards he had worked over for decades. Then he went on to recount his touring schedule, a world-crossing itinerary encompassing Japan, Europe and many parts between. So much for doctor's orders.

Here, in a recording made shortly before his death at age 82 on April 2, 2009, Shank delivers another interpretation of a song almost as old as the altoist himself, and plays it with even more raw intensity than he would have as a young man. As pianist Bill Mays, who also plays at a high level here, has commented: "Bud was always willing to let the music go where it wants and set minimum controls on the players." The process by which Shank moved from the cool to the hot is a fascinating one, and could make a subject for a treatise, but here is the end result: a wondrous in-the-moment approach to the music that sounds more like a clarion call to action than the final musings of a jazz elder statesman. Shank will be missed, but other players will also perforce envy an artist who could go out playing at this level.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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