Calling the gathering for this CD a "summit" might be overstating the case a bit. The Los Angeles-based quartet (tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore, pianist Eric Reed, bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Jeff Hamilton) may not all play together on a regular basis, but their paths have crossed many times. For this set, they perform ten veteran standards, including "Pick Yourself Up," "Old Folks," "Golden Earrings," "Caravan" and "Tequila." Moore and Reed take many fine solos, and the music, although not containing any real surprises, is satisfying and swinging.
Clifford Brown: "Best Coast Jazz" is the Five Star bookend session to "Clifford Brown All Stars", both having been recorded at the same session in Los Angeles in 1954. On the vinyl LP, each song took up a side, allowing for plenty of blowing room. "BCJ" would be released in 1955. One year later, Clifford Brown (and pianist Richie Powell and wife) would be dead from a car wreck on the Penn Turnpike during a rainstorm. Thus altering the course of jazz trumpet history in one tragic act. "CBAS" would be hurriedly released following the accident and we would once again shake our heads at the tremendous loss of trumpet genius Clifford Brown.
One of the most infamously acrimonious musical unions transpired between two of the leading purveyors of West Coast cool jazz: Chet Baker (trumpet) and Stan Getz (tenor sax). Their paths crossed only a handful of times and West Coast Live captures two of their earliest encounters in Los Angeles at the Haig on June 12, 1953, and the Tiffany Club on August 17, 1953. These recordings have been issued in Europe and Japan ad infinitum in varying degrees of quality, completeness, and often sporting erroneous data. However, enthusiasts should note that West Coast Live is the only release derived from producer/engineer Dick Bock's own master reels. For two men who purportedly would rather not be in the same room at the same time, Baker and Getz are able to create some legitimately brilliant improvisation. For the Haig set, Getz had been brought in to co-lead a quartet with Baker for an incarcerated Gerry Mulligan.
The West Coast has produced some of the greatest sounds the jazz world has ever witnessed. This live concert captures some of the pioneers of the style in full flow, as they take to the stage in a specially organized event to mark the 50th year of West Coast jazz.
This 2-CD set truly demonstrates what was defined as the "West Coast style of jazz" but, in fact, was the Shorty Rogers style. We can hear arrangements of a loose variety, played by the most outstanding group of musicians of the Los Angeles jazz scene. The music presented here is a major example of Shorty Rogers' great talent, and a milestone in the orchestral idiom of modern jazz. Shorty's writing and playing were a pretty honest reflection of his own personality. If there was ever an individual to be selected as the head of the West Coast school, it definitely would have been Shorty Rogers.
The mainstream came to know this remarkable tenor sax player via bossa nova – his unforgettable, breathy solo on "The Girl from Ipanema" propelled the song to number five in 1964 and to continued popularity to this very day, every bit as much as Astrud Gilberto's equally stunning, spare voice. But Stan Getz's involvement in this populist '60s craze actually displeased many a serious jazz enthusiast who'd admired his work in that field for more than two decades. After all, this 17-time winner of the Down Beat poll for top tenor saxophonist had already staked out a remarkable reputation, playing in the bands of such vaunted names as Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman from 1944-1949, and then leading his own bands thereafter. This three-CD box, then, finds Getz in top form as a jazz soloist and bandleader.