Jake Fryer/Bud Shank Quintet

In Good Company

Alto saxophonist Bud Shank, who died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 82 the day after this April 2009 recording, was prized by several 1950s band leaders—including Stan Kenton—for (as one writer put it) his “lean, persuasive way” of playing. Among the highlights of his long career after bailing out of the big-band scene was his association with the Lighthouse All-Stars in the mid-’50s and, two decades later, the founding of the L.A. Four. Like a lot of L.A.-based musicians (including trumpeter Shorty Rogers—another Kenton/Lighthouse veteran—with whom he played a gig in Chico back in 1983) he was also a very busy studio cat. He’s joined here by British altoist Jake Fryer and a killer rhythm section (Mike Wofford, piano; Bob Magnusson, bass; and Joe La Barbera, drums) on a set of mainstream/beboppish tunes that include a very rousing “Caravan” and Fryer’s own “Bopping With Bud,” a spritely number that references Bud Powell’s “Bouncing With Bud.” Even though he was on his last legs, Shank played well, and he and Fryer, whom he influenced, have created an admirable monument to the late altoman.