This double CD set recorded on the Pacific jazz label is the music that launched the careers of Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Chico Hamilton. Something quite different happened between June 1952 to 1953. Thats how long this quartet stayed together and to top it off there was not a piano in the group! These guys created a sound that is legendary, playing some of the best post-war jazz to date. Happy Birthday Gerry Mulligan! This is essential jazz. Discover and enjoy!
Curtis Counce (January 23, 1926 – July 31, 1963) was an American hard bop and West Coast jazz double bassist. The fruit of his 1956 Contemporary Records studio collaboration (as leader) with tenor great Harold Land, trumpeters Jack Sheldon and Gerald Wilson, pianist Carl Perkins and drummer Frank Butler was issued in 2007 on a double CD by Gambit Records. Counce died in Los Angeles, California, of a heart attack.
- 1956 – You Get More Bounce (OJC) with Jack Sheldon, Gerald Wilson, Harold Land, Carl Perkins, Frank Butler
- 1957 – Landslide (OJC) with Jack Sheldon – trumpet, Harold Land – tenor, Gerald Wiggins – piano, Frank Butler – drums
- 1957 – Carls´ Blues (OJC)
- 1958 – Exploring The Future (Dooto DTL 247) with Rolf Ericson, Harold Land, Elmo Hope, Frank Butler
In 1961, jazz pianist Johnny Williams was working on becoming the famous soundtrack composer we all know as John Williams, and one of the jobs he took on was the composition of thematic music for the television program Checkmate, a detective show featuring the talents of Sebastian Cabot, Doug McLure and Anthony George. Williams wrote several pieces including the show’s theme song and sketches that were associated with various characters and settings. Still strongly influenced by the jazz of the day, the music he created for the series reflected the modal experiments that were emerging from players like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.The studio orchestra that recorded the themes included drummer Shelly Manne, who appropriated the music for his group, Shelly Manne & His Men, and began to introduce the material to audiences at his club, Shelly’s Manne-Hole in Hollywood. When they had worked out the arrangements, he took the group, including Conte Candoli on trumpet, Richie Kamuca on tenor, Chuck Berghofer on bass and Russ Freeman on piano, into the studio and created this album.
Shelly Manne & His Men were one of the finest groups in West Coast jazz, and their ability to adapt this music for straight jazz performance gives a good indication why. They assimilated the modal approach, still considered new and challenging, and found the spaces in Williams’ compositions that allowed for improvisation, then crafted excellent solos to fill those spaces, weaving a carpet of sound as only a true working band can. The ability to play the music in a club environment until their grasp of the possibilities was complete was a luxury most bands didn’t have. This is a surprising CD, still fresh and full excitement these many years later. This is Westcoast Jazz in it’s own “Kind of Blue” glory.
I came across two very good jazz video’s on “youtube” recently that I’d like to share.
The Lighthouse Cafe and Shelly Manne’s “Manne Hole”. Where West Coast Jazz history began.
This Jazzman has just a few albums under his own name as leader, but they are true gems. His sound is “West Coast” and he played the Tenor and baritone sax’s. In the 50’s he was an artist with exhibits in New York City and did album cover design for Miles, Monk and Rollins. A great Jazzman and film composer. His scoring span 125 films that include The Andromeda Strain, Night Gallery, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. But the main reason for this post are to highlight 3 of his wonderful albums.
Patterns In Jazz from 1956 is Gil Melle’s definitive straight ahead jazz album, but at the same tim very unique in his selection of artist’s and instruments to feature in this album. Trombonist Eddie Bert, Joe Cinderilla on guitar, Ed Thigpen drums and Oscar Pettiford bass. The music is bright and colorful yet very approachable with an emphasis on laidback low tones. This disc is only available as an Import but can still be found for under the $40.00 range.
While doing some research into the Cool jazz scene of the 50’s I ran across some interesting information into one of the hottest clubs on the Westcoast. A place where “Cool Jazz” was born, The Lighthouse Cafe located at 30 Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, California. Photo Link, Harold Rumsey who spent some time playing with Stan Kenton formed a house band there called Harold Rumsey’s Lighthouse Allstars, consisting of Several groups that included Bob Cooper (Coop) on tenor sax, Bud Shank on alto, Claude Williamson piano, Conte Candoli trumpet, and Stan Levey drums. West Coast stars such as Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers, Ritchie Kamuca, and Jimmy Giuffre were regulars in the early days. His group became an overnight sensation drawing in a “Who’s Who of visiting jazz talent, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker. It also became an important venue for recordings; Art Pepper, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Don Ellis, Mose Allison, Ramsey Lewis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, The Three Sounds, the Jazz Crusaders, and Joe Henderson all made recordings there. The Lighthouse sponsored an inter-collegiate jazz festival late in the 1950s, and the competition’s winners included Mike Melvoin and Les McCann. The club still exist under the same name, but has changed it’s jazz only policy and you can hear jazz played on Thursdays and Sundays.
Selected discography of Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars.
- Sunday Jazz a la Lighthouse, 1953, Contemporary.
- Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars, 1953, Contemporary.
- In The Solo Spotlight, 1954-57, Contemporary.
- Music For Lighthousekeeping, 1956, Contemporary.
- Double Or Nothin’, 1957, Fresh Sounds.
A place rich in West Coast Jazz history.
Shelly Manne, He did for West Coast Jazz what Art Blakey did for Hard Bop. His famous Jazz club “Manne Hole” in L.A. was venue for every visiting jazz artist and many great albums were recorded there. I highly recommend his At The Blackhawk vol. 1-5 and At The Manne Hole vol. 1 and 2 as some of the best “Live” albums to experience.