Bud Shank – Windmills Of Your Mind

Hot Stamper Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

  • Bud Shank’s 1969 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side one
  • Fully extended from top to bottom with a wide-open soundstage – for this music this is the right sound
  • Features a collection of compositions by jazz great Michel Legrand, who lends his talents here on piano and harpsichord as well
  • “Every track is a French twist on the swinging ’60s, with superb arranging by Legrand and crisp playing by Bud and the orchestra.”

This vintage World Pacific Jazz pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Shank, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Windmills Of Your Mind have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1969
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Windmills Of Your Mind

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Bud Shank – alto saxophone, flute
Gary Barone, Bud Brisbois, Conte Candoli – trumpet
Billy Byers – trombone
Ernie Watts – tenor saxophone
Michel Legrand – piano, harpsichord, arranger
Artie Kane – organ
Howard Roberts – guitar
Ray Brown – bass
Shelly Manne – drums


Side One

The Windmills Of Your Mind
Watch What Happens
Theme D’Elise
One Day
Chanson De Solange

Side Two

De Delphine A Lancien
I Will Wait For You
His Eyes, Her Eyes
Once Upon A Summertime
Chanson Des Jumelles

Jazz Wax Review

On Windmills of Your Mind, [Bud Shank] fed Michel Legrand’s jazz-based pop melodies through the Bud Shank jazz grinder, resisting the temptation to convert the film tunes into adult contemporary fare.

Windmills of Your Mind was arranged by Legrand and covered all of the composer’s hot material at the time. Which meant three movies—The Thomas Crown Affair, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these movies, all are available at Netflix and are must-sees for jazz fans.

Windmills of Your Mind was recorded in Los Angeles and featured Gary Barone, Bud Brisbois and Conte Candoli (trumpets); Billy Byers (trombone); Bud Shank (alto sax and flute); Ernie Watts (tenor sax); Michel Legrand (piano and harpsichord); Artie Kane (organ); Howard Roberts (guitar); Ray Brown (bass); Shelly Manne (drums) and five strings.

Every track is a French twist on the swinging ’60s, with superb arranging by Legrand and crisp playing by Bud and the orchestra. The album opens with the Thomas Crown Affair’s title song, which is given a paisley feel with Legrand’s harpsichord and strings. Watch What Happens from Umbrellas follows, using a fabulous merging of alto, tenor, trumpet and piano. Legrand here plays tag with Bud on the improvised sections, adding to the track’s dynamism.

The cat-like Theme D’Elise from Umbrellas offers plenty of punch, and Bud both echoes the arrangement and takes a graffiti can to it on the improvised passages. One Day, which Legrand wrote with Alan and Marilyn Bergman in 1967, is a torrid ballad that Bud plays with abandon backed by Legrand on piano and strings.

Chanson de Solange and De Delphine a Lancien are both uptempo burners from Rochefort. The former finds Bud on alto along with a taste of Byers’ trombone and Roberts’ guitar. For the latter, Bud is on flute, running through impossibly fast and complex lines backed by piano and vibes. Though the vibist isn’t named in the album’s personnel, Larry Bunker is a good guess.

I Will Wait for You was the other major standard to emerge from Legrand’s Umbrellas. It’s taken at a variety of tempos, including a series of Supersax-y lines run down by the two saxes, trumpet and organ.

My favorite here is the inquisitive His Eyes, Her Eyes from The Thomas Crown Affair, which sets Bud and Barone off on a wild tear supported by Kane on organ.

Once Upon a Summertime is taken as a scorching ballad. The album ends with another tune from Rochefort—the skippy Chanson des Jumelles, with Barone’s trumpet and Kane’s organ.

The older I get, the more I appreciate Bud’s jazz-goes-’60s efforts—particularly when they sizzle. To his credit, Bud always stuck to his knitting, no matter the trend or fad. On Windmills of Your Mind, that was an easier challenge given Legrand’s French jazz-pop melodies.

– Marc Myers

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