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!
Harold Land (Feb 18, 1928– July 27, 2001) today is the birthday of the most underrated Tenor saxophonist in Jazz history. From very early in his career he ‘s played with the best, he played in The Max Roach and Clifford Brown Quintet and what a wonderful Post-Bop vehicle for his talent it was.
Harold grew up in San Diego and started playing the saxophone at 16 when he heard ‘Body And Soul”. In 1949 he recorded his first album as leader for the Savoy label, Harold Land Allstars. During a jam session at the home of Eric Dolphy, Clifford Brown heard Land play and hired him on the spot for his quintet with Max Roach replacing Teddy Edwards on the tenor. He stayed for 2 years playing some of the best in Bebop becoming quite famous in jazz circles. In 1955 Harold returned home upon hearing his grandmother was dying in L.A., What might have he became if he stayed in the New York Jazz scene we will never know. As it was he remained on the West Coast and joined The Curtis Counce Group recording with them and making his own albums as leader for the Contemporary label. In the 1970’s, he recorded a number of albums for the Concord label and in the 80’s he joined the Timeless All-Stars sextet. He returned to performing on his own more frequently and widely in the late 1990’s and even became a teacher of Jazz at the University of California in L.A.
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.
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.
Larry Vuckovich a Westcoast based Jazz pianist who grew up in Yugoslavia studying classical piano. There he developed an interest in jazz listining to “Armed Forces Radio” and experiencing with it himself. At 14 he moved to San Francisco during 1951 and the exciting Westcoast jazz scene. He met Vince Guaraldi at the club “The Blackhawk Night Club“who took him in as a student. He met alot of the jazz greats visiting the clubs and the Jazz Workshop, Miles, Dizzy, Milt Jackson, Gil Evans, etc. He started playing professionally and worked with Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross and toured the U.S, Canada, and Europe playing with many greats. In the late 60’s he was leader of the house band at Germanys leading jazz club playing with many jazz greats including Philly Jo Jones who he went on to tour Europe with and later in the decade he met again after returning to San Francisco where Larry was leader of the house band at the jazz club The Keystone Korner playing there until it’s close in 1983. Larry moved to New York playing at all the great clubs. 1990 he returned to the Bay area. He has several great albums out including Street Scene and High Wall both dedicated to the Film Noir. He has another notable album City Sounds,Village Voices which is very good. Larry Vuckovich is a more obscure name in the Jazz world but a great artist just waiting for your discovery.
Marty Paich born 1925 in Oakland, Cal. was a 1950’s pianist, arranger and producer. Well known in professional circles but somewhat unknown to the public. Active in the West Coast jazz experience as arranger and producer of countless albums of that time. He worked and recorded with greats artist such as: Ray Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Terry Gibbs, Stan Kenton, Shelly Manne, Anita O’Day, Dave Pell, Art Pepper, Buddy Rich, Shorty Rogers and Mel Tormé. Several albums as leader of note are: Marty Paich Trio, A Jazz Band Ball, Paich-Ence, The Picasso Of Big Band Jazz.
In the 60’s he be came more active in commercial studios producing music for The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (where he replaced Nelson Riddle), and The Sonny and Cher Show. He also scored such television programs as Ironside, for which he won an Emmy Award.