Bob Cooper / Bud Shank

Blowin' Country

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West Coast jazz of the 1950s has long had a bad reputation in jazz history books and among East Coast jazz writers who have stereotyped it as an overarranged and bloodless music best heard in movie soundtracks of the era. In reality, it was a multifaceted style, a smoothing of bebop's rough edges that could often be hard-swinging even with its quiet rhythm sections. Two of the finest West Coast players of the '50s were Bud Shank and Bob Cooper. Shank, a cool-toned altoist who on this 1998 CD also plays flute and tenor, appeared on many dates with Coop, who triples here on tenor, bass clarinet and oboe. Despite the CD title (named after a Shank original), the music that they perform on these selections from 1958 (plus five added numbers from 1956) is not country music but swinging jazz. Teamed with either pianist Claude Williamson or guitarist Howard Roberts, bassist Don Prell and drummer Chuck Flores, Shank and Cooper display distinctive but complementary styles, and their tripling on woodwinds gives plenty of variety to the date. Cooper's oboe playing, which preceded Yusef Lateef's, in particular is a joy. Highly recommended.

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