Bud Shank delivers all the elements necessary for good mainstream jazz: swing, spirit, solid time feel, a robust sound, emotion, intellect, quality tunes and the ability to ignite both band members and audience alike. Hearing him is an exhilarating experience.
The veteran alto saxophonist, who first appeared locally 35 years ago, used shimmering technique, squeaks and honks, down-home funk but very few cliches in opening a four-night stand Thursday at the Loa in Santa Monica. His effusive expression was supported with like elan by pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist John Leitham and drummer Sherman Ferguson.
On a blues simply called "Number 150," Shank turned out both complex and simple lines and then, unhurried, unworried, waited a moment for the next idea to come, making his presentation a conversation as much as a performance. Here and on tunes like an "up" version of "Solar," he'd sometimes repeat a pattern, but change it slightly to create varying tonal colors, like photographs of the same subject but with different light values.
"Sea Flower," a bossa nova that revealed Shank's ability to connect melodic fragments into a woven fabric, and the poignant "I Stayed Too Long at the Fair" were also included.