Dave Shank Quintet – Soundproof (2011)

There is often a West Coast cool this recording, thanks largely to the smoothly energetic phrasings of vibraphonist Dave Shank. That’s not to say, however, that Soundproof doesn’t have its moments of fiery interplay

Check Saxist Mike Migliore (Maynard Ferguson, Bob Belden, Count Basie) as he spars interestingly with Shank on the spiky title track. Shank even flashes a few nifty Milt Jackson-ish bop moves on “Snoopin,'” which was inspired by the late composer-keyboardist Don Grolnick. The suite-like “A Minor Distraction,” toward the end of the album, includes some sweeping improvisational asides, as well.

More often than not, however, Shank lives up to his advance billing as a studio ace for the likes of Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan and Luther Vandross, among many others. This record has an instantly familiar listenability, even on the first spin — and not just because of Shank’s elegant poise: The contrapuntal “Darkening” was inspired by the Kenny Kirkland composition “Chance,” “Fair of Foul” is Shank’s sweeping reinterpretation of the Arlen-Mercer classic “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “Some Nice” pulls apart Porter’s “You’d be So Nice to Come Home To” only to assemble it again in a new way.

Soundproof, to be issued Sept. 27 on Rhombus Records, was produced by Tim Weston, with whom Shank performed in the late-1980s jazz quintet Wishful Thinking. The project also includes pianist Barry Miles and drummer Terry Silverlight, a pair who first worked together on Miles’ 1971 fusion delight White Heat. Bassist John Patitucci, a longtime member of Wayne Shorter’s Quartet and former member of Chich Corea’s Elektric and Akoustic bands, was part of the same LA jazz scene with Shank in the late 1980s and early ’90s, but this album is the first time the two have worked together.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.