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Jazz Review : Shank Perks Up Listeners

October 26, 1987|ZAN STEWART

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.

Broadbent's prowess continues to expand. A vital and individual be-bop stylist, he played stimulating, inventive linear ideas that contained plenty of pop, satisfying both mind and heart. He was ever the surprising player, coming up with unexpected statements. His use of thick yet brisk chordal passages full of dusky tensions was a particular delight.

The evening's only drawback was that the foursome played more as individuals than as a cohesive unit, but since this was the first set, one assumes that can easily be overcome. Shank and company closed Sunday.

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