Bud Shank has played in a great variety of situations in his life, from big bands to small groups, years as a studio musician, and in recent years, back again to small groups. Now, here's Bud in a new setting, playing the original compositions of his pianist, Dave Peck. Bud moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1980, and immediately began playing with the resident musicians. In Dave Peck, he found not only an excellent pianist, but also a composer of unusual sensitivity and brilliance. Dave Peck is a Seattle-based composer and pianist who has performed with a variety of visiting jazz artists as well as writing for and performing with his own group Syzygy in festivals, concerts and clubs in the area. He is a member of the music faculty at The Cornish College of the Arts where he teaches piano, music theory, composition, and ensembles. Dave has been a member of the Bud Shank Quartet since 1986, as has Chuck Deardorf.
The other members of this quintet have also worked together on and off for about fifteen years. Guitarist David Peterson, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Dave Coleman have also been regular members of Peck's group Syzygy which first introduced much of the music hear in this collection. They are all first-call Seattle musicians and have played and recorded in a wide variety of situations, but demonstrate a particular affinity for Dave Peck's original compositions.
Bud is enthusiastic about Dave's compositions, too, and he obviously enjoys presenting them to new audiences. And Dave, who is usually notoriously critical of his own playing and the performance of his music, is pleased with the present recording and the playing of everyone involved. The consistent quality and continuity of the music might suggest a suite, but Bud and Dave agree it's more like a collection of short stories. Dave came up with the title Tales of The Pilot, a reference to the Polish writer and mathematician Stanislaw Lem, whose Tales of Pirx The Pilot is a collection of science-fiction stories about an astronaut.
The recording took place in a small theatre at Fort Worden at Port Townsend, near where Bud now lives. In more recent years, Fort Worden has become a State Park and Arts Center. The Centrum Foundation administers a variety of workshops and performances including chamber music, dance, theatre, fiddle tunes, writers' conferences, and The Bud Shank Jazz Workshop and Jazz Port Townsend Festival each July.
The theatre was built originally as a movie house in 1932 when Fort Worden was still a military base. The original projection booth served as a perfect location for the recording equipment and control room. Bud campaigned for doing the recording in the theatre because he liked the sound of the room, particularly a "sweet spot" of about 8 feet in diameter in the center of the stage where he played throughout. Accordingly, no artificial reverberation was needed for this recording.
On to the music -- Now She Dances is one of Dave's older compositions. Originally a trio tune inspired by Bill Evans, in this expanded version it leans more toward McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane. David Peterson stars on this one with a wonderful solo. The Stars Also Shine is like an Italian Aria played as a waltzing bossa-nova. This is a lyrical, legato melody by Bud in 4, with the rest of the band in 3/2 over a bright bossa rhythm. The tune was inspired by Pavarotti's singing of "E lucevan le stelle".
Why Tell Me Now, one of Dave's most recent compositions, is a poignant song with a touch of "down home" that's as comfortable as a porch swing on a hot summer night. There's something of church bells from a white steeple in the chiming at the end of each chorus, too. Cedar and Billy was inspired by the playing of Cedar Walton and Billy Higgins, who Dave says, was the best music he heard during a trip to L.A. in the 70's. Like its inspiration, this is a "blowing" tune, complete with the exchanges between drummer Dave Coleman and Bud, Dave and Dave Peterson before the last chorus. Waltz for Jane E. is a pretty waltz named for Dave's wife, Jane E. Lambert, an excellent singer who heads the music department at The Cornish College of The Arts in Seattle. Bud, Dave and David Peterson all solo on the attractive, if unusual changes. Bouquet of Fires is a beautiful song played out of tempo as a duet by Bud and Dave. It's the kind of music that makes a singer's throat swell -- aching to sing it, though it would take a very skilled singer to negotiate these lines.
Split Infinity also begins out of tempo with Chuck Deardorf's bass in conversation with piano and guitar. The languorous tempo begins with the introduction of the melody in the bass and piano. Bud enters on alto in counterpoint to the basic melody, building in intensity with David Peterson's guitar provides a second, more electric counter melody. Dave's piano solos provide lyric interludes between the more dense sections. A Night At The Opera is an earlier piece by Dave, which he says is from his "Marx Brothers Suite", a series of pieces inspired by the Marx Brothers films. Bud, Dave and David Peterson all solo on this bright, open piece.
Welcome to the music of Dave Peck, and a new dimension of Bud Shank. I've listened to much of this music develop over the last several years, and I'm pleased to know it's now going to be reaching the wider audience it so richly deserves.
Jazz After Hours
American Public Radio