The lush and lovely I'll Take Romance pairs Bud Shank with the Len Mercer Strings, a significant and welcome about-face from the small group sessions that otherwise dominate his late-Fifties Pacific Jazz output. Far removed from the sometimes bloodless sensibilities of the West Coast cool school, I'll Take Romance is as warm as its title portends-the string arrangements are sweet but never sentimental, boasting a sensitivity that colors but never overwhelms Shank's lyrical alto and flute. The material, though familiar, is expertly sequenced and artfully crafted-chestnuts like "Deep Purple" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" are positively radiant.
All Music Guide
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I'll Take Romance
Bud Shank with the Len Mercer Strings
Before the "Jazz West Coast No. 3" group arrived in Milano in April, 1958 with June Christy, Bud Shank and Bob Cooper, Italian and American musicians had never recorded together, at least in the field of modern jazz. But that's all past history. This long playing recording, the first to be produced in Italy in the vein of "Jazz Horn With Strings," is the most brilliant proof that Italian-American collaboration can give really excellent results. Here, in fact, the combined efforts of the principal soloist, Bud Shank, and the orchestra that plays these brilliant arrangements by Ezio Leoni (known in Italy as Len Mercer) and Giulio Libano of all-time great standards, are perfect.
Bud Shank's career is too long to detail here. Born in Dayton, Ohio, on May 27, 1926, he began his musical studies quite young, first choosing the clarinet, then the alto sax, and finally the flute. He moved to California in 1947, but he soon left to tour the United States with the orchestras of Charlie Barnet, Alvino Rey, Art Mooney, and Stan Kenton; he remained with Kenton through 1951 and the development of "Innovations In Modern Music." Leaving Kenton and settling permanently in Los Angeles, he gravitated to the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, then center of the jazz colony. Since that time Shank has starred with his own Quartet, both throughout the United States and internationally, in tours of Europe, Africa, and Australia.
The number of recording sessions he has made an important contribution to in the last few years is uncountable, but it's certain that Shank is an absolutely irreplaceable soloist in the Los Angeles area.
Bud's acute sensitivity and his lyrical approach to jazz are evident when he plays both the flute and the alto sax. Through his recordings he has done more to popularize the flute for jazz than any other artist. In these recordings Bud plays both the flute and alto sax, finding the accompaniment of the strings an ideal background for his rich tones. His improvisations cut through the soft, mellow strings, standing out without sweetening or depriving them of their vigor and flavor which are so characteristic of the jazz solo.
The rhythm section on this album is composed of Don Prell, bass, and Jimmy Pratt on the drums, both of whom accompanied Shank on his Italian tour. The Italian musicians who took part in this recording will not easily forget this recording session; their pleasure in playing with such an excellent soloist was quite evident. At the end of one of the pieces included on this record, the members of the orchestra burst into loud cheers for Shank's inimitable performance.
- Arrigo Polillo