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"Bud Shank is too much. I told him I had his contract ready, but I can't get him to leave California. He was the greatest part of Kenton's Neophonic concert the other night, and he was even greater with us the last two days. He even shook Johnny Hodges . . . Bud Shank is something else!"
-- Duke Ellington

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Why Jazz Music?

Hi David - you asked some good but difficult questions. I hope my responses are not too vague. We are dealing with some very abstract subjects here.

1 ) What is Jazz?
To me it is a form of music that emphasizes rhythmic pulses, chordal exploration, direct and spontaneous communication with my audience, plus the most important part - improvisation.

2) What does Jazz mean to me?
A musical form that permits me to make use of everything outlined in #1.

3) Why is Jazz different from other forms of music?
See #1.

4) In your favorite performance setting, how does playing make you feel?
Improvisational music makes me feel FREE. Freedom to create new melodies over the chord structure of the original composition (when playing structured music). Freedom to take part in spontaneous dialogues with the other musicians I am playing with. Freedom to attempt new things while playing compositions that I possibly might have been playing for years. If I am successful in these attempts, the response within me is one of joy and accomplishment. Failure is embarrassing when it occurs, but I can always say I tried! In my early years soloing before large audiences (like playing in Carnegie Hall with Stan Kenton) gave me a feeling of fear and intimidation. But as I grew older and more confident such occasions filled me with satisfaction and thrills.

5) Why did you start playing Jazz music?
It was not my decision. Something bigger than all of us made that decision for me. I was twelve years old.

Best regards and good luck,
Bud Shank


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