Saturday, September 30, 2017

The West Coast School Of White Musicians And Its Soloists - from "Modern Jazz" by Morgan and Horricks

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

As I prepared this chapter for the blog as part of our continuing feature on their book Modern Jazz, I was amazed at how knowledgeable both Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks were about the West Coast School, especially viewing if from far off England, and in some cases, their uncanny ability to put their finger on the pulse of many of the observations generally associated with the West Coast style of Jazz and its principal exponents to wit:

“There have been many critics who have opposed the use of the term "West Coast Jazz", claiming it was merely a coincidence that so much jazz talent was placed in the same area at the same time. Up to a point this assertion is correct, but it must be remembered that jazz can only progress and develop through influence and association. Over the years the close proximity of jazz musicians in Hollywood led inevitably to the passing on of ideas and means of expression and the subsequent creation of a style.”

Yet for all their insights and accuracies, there are a few startling omissions as well such as when the authors fail to include Frank Rosolino among the West Coast School’s trombone luminaries, Lou Levy from the list of pianists and also fail to reference two of its major drummers: Stan Levey and Mel Lewis.

They also make some egregious errors. For example, when they assert: “Larry Bunker continues to use the formulas laid down by Chico Hamilton with Mulligan;” with all due respect, in terms of both the technical ability to play the drums and the ability to swing on them, Chico couldn’t carry Larry’s drum sticks.

There also seems to be no corroboration from Jack Montrose on his role as “house arranger” for Pacific Jazz as Jack denied serving in that capacity when the question was put to him directly many years later at a Los Angeles Jazz Institute event.

Here’s more of Messrs Morgan and Horricks’ writing on the subject of “The West Coast School Of White Musicians And Its Soloists.”

“Towards The End of the forties the first signs heralding the large-scale move to the West Coast became apparent. In retrospect it is true to say that Stan Kenton was largely responsible for the formation of this new school, if not as a practising member then certainly as an influence and mentor.

He formed his first band to play an engagement at the Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa, in April 1941 and since then his various orchestras have been formed and disbanded on the Pacific Coast. This inevitably resulted in a large number of musicians becoming available for club and studio engagements at the same time, men not necessarily natives of California but who found themselves there by force of circumstance. A contributory factor was the amount of work open to skilled musicians in film, television, radio and recording studios. For these engagements the ex-big-band members found themselves ideally suited, for their sight-reading and playing abilities placed them in an enviable position.

Having established a nucleus on the Coast, more and more jazz musicians began to gravitate towards the area. Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the centre of the recording world shifted its position across the continent from New York in the East to Hollywood and Los Angeles in the West.

The formation of "after-hours" clubs in the area was an inevitable outcome of the move, and in such places as The Haig, Zardi's, The Tiffany, The California and The Lighthouse in Los Angeles, and the Downbeat and Hangover in San Francisco, the new school of experimentalists was given the opportunity to develop and expand into a new and recognized entity.

Foremost amongst these establishments was The Lighthouse at Hermosa Beach, the club with which most of the new West Coasters became identified. It was here in 1948 [May, 1949?] that Howard Rumsey, a musician who had played bass in the earliest Stan Kenton band, gave the first of his many Sunday concerts. His task was not easy at the outset and the local following was slight. He persevered, however, and by 1950 had created a new jazz tradition in California. He became part owner of the club and helped in the production of a musically conducive atmosphere by his continued appearance on the stand with the visiting musicians.

The leaders of the West Coast movement comprised three ex-Kenton musicians. Of these trumpeter Shorty Rogers was the most well-known, for despite his youth he had had a wide and lengthy experience of working with and for jazz. One of his earliest jobs was in the band of his brother-in-law Red Norvo in the middle forties. Subsequently he played with Herman and Kenton as well as many engagements with studio bands and small jazz groups. The second founder member was drummer Shelly Manne, one of the most improved percussionists of recent years. He was stationed in New York during his service with the Coast Guard, and it was here that he played and recorded with Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. His work with Stan Kenton was exemplified by a certain tenseness, although the seeds of his future inventiveness were evident in Kenton's composition Shelly Manne. The third musician was the versatile saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre, most often to be heard on baritone but almost equally facile on tenor and clarinet. He, too, had played in bands led by Woody Herman and Stan Kenton before settling down in California. It was around these three men, Rogers, Manne and Giuffre, that the main body of the school was formed and in the light of future development it was fortunate that each of the three recognized jazz's allegiance to the beat.

Amongst the remainder of the Stan Kenton sidemen who stayed in the Hollywood area were trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, trombonist Milt Bernhart, alto saxists Art Pepper and Bud Shank, tenor saxists Bob Cooper and Bill Holman and bassist Don Bagley. Other musicians of repute arrived on the scene after the initial confirmation of the new school and there is no doubt that the West Coast movement encouraged the development of many who might not otherwise have turned to jazz.

The regrettable feature of this rapid formation of the new jazz centre was the almost complete exclusion of coloured musicians from the clubs and recording studios. The Negro has always experienced difficulty in obtaining regular musical employment apart from the all-coloured touring bands and the local groups which have played in and around the Southern States. The continual prejudice against non-whites whittled the number of coloured musicians in California down to a very small percentage of the total. It is worth considering here the work of these few personalities.

First on the list comes the late Wardell Gray, who had managed to find employment for his small group at most of the Hollywood clubs, specializing in jazz played with a beat. His untimely and tragic death in the spring of 1955  robbed the jazz world in general and California in particular of a most respected and well-liked personality. Wardell was originally spotted by Benny Goodman at a 1947 Gene Norman concert in Pasadena and, after tours with Goodman and Basic, returned to the West Coast in 1950. Bass player Curtis Counce has achieved the near-impossible by becoming a member of the studio round, and there is ample evidence on record that his musicianly sound has helped many of the Hollywood studio-assembled bands to swing in a relaxed manner. Drummer Max Roach had made a brief but memorable visit to Rumsey's Lighthouse during the winter of 1953-54 and returned to the Coast later with Clifford Brown as co-leader of a Quintet. Pianist Sonny Clark became identified with the scene principally as a member of Buddy De Franco's rhythm section. The more gifted pianist Hampton Hawes has also played chiefly with white groups.

Harry Edison, a mainstay of the Count Basie band for many years, has figured on many sessions and played in the trumpet section of the Shorty Rogers band when it recorded a tribute to Basie. The resulting long-playing record, titled Shorty Courts The Count, did not, however, contain any solos by Edison, which would seem to indicate that a golden opportunity had been missed. Edison played a successful engagement at the Haig club, in the summer of 1953, as the alternating attraction to the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Tenor saxist Dexter Gordon and drummer Larry Marable had both worked for long periods with Wardell Gray, the former's association dating back to the original Chase success recorded for Ross Russell's Dial label in 1947. Falling into this same category is Teddy Edwards, another tenor player who first gained prominence in the middle forties and, in 1954, played at a few West Coast concert dates with the Max Roach-Clifford Brown unit.

Drummer Chico Hamilton was born in Los Angeles and worked with Charlie Barnet, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lena Home before becoming the first drummer in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. With Mulligan he set and maintained a very high standard, particularly with his crisp brushwork. Finally, Frank Morgan an alto saxist with an incisive tone and an inherent sense of swing who recorded with Teddy Charles's West Coasters. Morgan later moved across country to New York at a time when most trans-American jazz traffic was in the reverse direction.

These are the most prominent non-white musicians to have worked on the Pacific Coast. Without them the new jazz which has been created there would have already become stagnant, for no true and lasting jazz development has yet occurred which has not been fostered or helped by Negroes.

The white musicians are legion and have constituted the vast majority of the jazzmen in the area. Shorty Rogers is an omnipresent influence either through his scoring or his playing. His own solo work rarely fails to swing and is typified by a welcome and extrovert sense of humour. After Rogers the most outstanding soloist on trumpet is Chet Baker, who was given his chance in the original Quartet formed by Gerry Mulligan. Subsequently he left to form his own group, and his association with the West Coast was severed except for visits occasioned by his touring schedule. Chet specializes in a warm-toned approach to trumpet jazz, heard to best advantage on slow ballads. His success with Mulligan on the recording of My Funny Valentine was repeated on record with his own Quartet versions of Imagination and Moon Love. In common with many other trumpeters who had gone before him, he attempted to broaden his expression by singing. His vocals are not without interest, although their value should not be overstressed.

Maynard Ferguson gained notoriety with his high-note effects for Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton. His establishment on the Coast gave him greater opportunities to play jazz, principally at The Lighthouse, and when restricted to the normal register of his instrument he produces a style of playing close to that of Shorty Rogers. A second Rogers disciple possessed of an even less-inhibited approach than Shorty is Don Fagerquist. Don, of Swedish-American extraction, possesses the qualities necessary for big-band work and he figured in both the Gene Krupa and Les Brown trumpet sections for lengthy periods. His solo work is constructive and exciting in the better sense of the term.

Dick Collins will be remembered as the trumpet mainstay of the Dave
Brubeck Octet. In common with other Brubeck associates he studied at Mills College under the modern French composer Darius Milhaud. He continued his studies under Milhaud in Paris and made his first jazz records there with Kenny Clarke for French Vogue. He has worked subsequently with many styles and sizes of bands from Alvino Rey to Woody Herman, and his association with the West Coast appears to have been more by accident than design. The first new trumpeter of distinction is Jack Sheldon, who has worked at The Lighthouse, recorded with Jimmy Giuffre and also with a Quartet under his own name. Tonally his approach is close to the Rogers style, but his solos are constructed with softer outlines.

A feature of the Pacific Coast style is the accent placed upon adaptability and versatility. Shorty Rogers has experimented with flugel horn, while trumpeter Maynard Ferguson took up the valve trombone. This latter development was occasioned by the work of Bob Enevoldsen, a sincere and gifted musician who gave the piston-operated trombone a new lease of life in jazz. In addition, Bob has recorded on tenor saxophone and double bass and is capable of playing trumpet as well as most of the reed instruments.

Furthermore, he has been responsible for several simple but effective arrangements. Another important valve trombonist is Bob Brookmeyer, a native of Kansas City and an inhabitant of the West Coast by choice. His work both with Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan placed him before the jazz public, and the later recordings under his own name show the steady development of his own musical personality. His style is founded upon a firm love of the Count Basie principles, namely that jazz must swing all the time.

Stu Williamson, younger brother of pianist Claude Williamson, added the valve trombone as a double to his main instrument, the trumpet. On the more conventional slide trombone Milt Bernhart is the oldest-established member of The Lighthouse group, with an expressive and emotional approach to his solo work. The rich tone heard on such recordings as Solitaire with Kenton has become familiar on many small group recordings, notably Decca's "Jazz Studio Two" session. Herbie Harper, from Texas, played trombone in the Charlie Spivak band which worked in California during the nineteen-forties. He remained in Hollywood after Spivak's 1946 engagements and then became one of the first to join the coveted circle of studio men. His jazz playing is represented on two long-playing records under his own name for the Nocturne label, a third issue under the leadership of drummer George Redman for Skylark and a four-title session for the Trend label with clarinettist Abe Most. The records reveal him as a dependable if somewhat predictable soloist with a warm tone and an ample technique.

Turning to the reed instruments it becomes evident that this category has been a firm favourite with the West Coasters. The modern jazz movement had previously placed the accent on tenor and alto through the work of Lester Young and the late Charlie Parker, and it was no doubt these earlier influences which contributed towards the large-scale use of the saxophone. The clarinet did not seem suited to the West Coast style and there is probably no significance to be read into this virtually complete forbearance. Jimmy Giuffre used the clarinet for solo work, to heighten the Basie atmosphere in Shorty Courts The Count. In addition, he took solos on his own LP and on "Jazz Studio Two" revealing a soft-toned approach not completely in keeping with his forceful, robust work on tenor and baritone. Abe Most, a one-time Les Brown musician, recorded for Hollywood's Trend label and produced four titles which gave rise to much exaggerated praise and an attempt to foster Most as the replacement for Benny Goodman.

The first alto soloist of note in the new Hollywood school was Art Pepper, the principal jazz soloist with Kenton for several years. Despite the advent of several new arrivals, each hailed as a sensation, Pepper has emerged catalytically as the best in a highly competitive field. His natural and free sense of swing contains more of the true jazz spirit than many of his contemporaries. His solo work on record is as impressive with either large or small groups, for his playing imparts a sense of presence and personality. With Kenton he recorded his longest and best feature, the arrangement by Shorty Rogers which was named after Art himself. His Quartet and Quintet LPs for Discovery are most enjoyable, as are his solos, on both alto and tenor, with Shorty Rogers on Victor/H.M.V.

Bud Shank was a contemporary of Pepper in the Stan Kenton organization and, consequently, was accorded few solos. It was his later work on record with the Gerry Mulligan Tentette and the Afrodesia feature with Shelly Manne on Contemporary that confirmed him as a soloist rather than merely a good section man. His versatility has been demonstrated on many occasions, for he is a capable musician on tenor and baritone saxes and in 1953 he commenced the serious adaptation of the flute to jazz. In this respect he was not as successful as some of his East Coast contemporaries who had attempted the same task. The unusual flute sound neither helped nor hindered the first LP volume by guitarist Barney Kessel, and the subsequent flute and oboe duets between Shank and Bob Cooper have formed a more useful contribution to jazz. His best flute solo will be found on the Nocturne LP under his own name, the composition being Lotus Bud written by Shorty Rogers.

Herb Geller comes nearest to the standard set by Pepper as a jazz soloist pure and simple. His broad-toned alto has graced many recorded performances and his contribution to "Jazz Studio Two" places him well above his colleagues as a musician of sincerity and deep-seated jazz feeling. In comparison with Geller the work of Lee Konitz (who was resident in Hollywood for a time) and Paul Desmond sounds anaemic. Konitz became less introspective in his musical outlook during his term of service with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, for he was lucky enough to play in one of the most swinging bands ever to have played under the Kenton baton. Desmond's work has been almost inseparably linked with the playing of Dave Brubeck and as a complementary voice to Brubeck's piano style he is irreplaceable.

Lennie Niehaus, yet another Kenton alto player, exhibits enormous potential and is possessed of a prodigious technique. His first recordings for the Contemporary label were extremely impressive by virtue of Niehaus' length of melodic line, purity of tone and sense of swing. Despite these attributes his playing lacks the elusive jazz quality which would make him the equal of Pepper or Geller.

The tenor saxophone has attracted an almost equally large following. Jimmy Giuffre has used the instrument frequently, for it is ideally suited to his sense of humour. He indulged in excursions into the rhythm-and-blues field by way of his Big Girl and Big Boy recordings although he is capable of turning in more serious work when the occasion demands. His own LP on Capitol indicates that the tenor is his second best instrument and it is the larger baritone that gives him a better means of expression.

Bob Cooper concentrates on tenor apart from his occasional use of oboe and English horn. His solos have always been well constructed and competently played with a-tone reminiscent of the woodwind family. He acknowledges the influence of the Stan Getz school although he is by no means a complete copyist. On his instrument he is a greater technician and perfectionist than another ex-Kenton tenorman Bill Holman. Holman's solo playing contains more punch but less lightness and grace and it is for his arranging that he is most noteworthy.

Both Zoot Sims and Stan Getz have been identified with the West Coast in the middle fifties, Sims by virtue of his engagement with Stan Kenton and his subsequent settlement in California while Getz was a frequent visitor at the head of his Quartet and Quintet.

Jack Montrose is a more genuine West Coast jazzman, developing into a soloist after some years of work principally as an arranger and composer. He became staff arranger for Richard Bock's Pacific Jazz label and wrote for several Chet Baker and Bob Gordon sessions.

Bill Perkins qualifies for inclusion in this chapter despite his long association with the Woody Herman band. Perkins created the smooth tenor solo to be heard on Blues for Brando played by the Shorty Rogers Orchestra (H.M.V.).

Lastly, Dave Pell, a musician who has been heard most frequently as a member of the Les Brown band. Pell headed a most musicianly Octet for recording purposes using arrangements by Rogers, Marty Paich, Johnny Mandel and Wes Hensel and his smooth, sophisticated sound has been a pleasing addition to Hollywood's jazz scene.

The larger baritone saxophone was placed very firmly in perspective by Gerry Mulligan during the autumn of 1952 when he came to the West Coast. Around this instrument he formed a Quartet completed by trumpet, bass and drums and proved immediately that as a solo instrument the baritone had few if any, drawbacks. His playing undoubtedly influenced Bob Gordon, who took up the instrument and who played it in preference to the tenor whenever he was able. He made great progress and was soon given the opportunity to record an entire LP for Pacific Jazz under the title Meet Mr. Gordon. He may be heard almost equally well on the George Redman album for Skylark. As has been noted previously Giuffre plays baritone very successfully, as do both Geller and Shank. On one notable occasion in the Victor recording studios Shank, Art Pepper and Giuffre all played baritone on the Shorty Rogers recording of Sweetheart of Sigmund Freud.

There have been many critics who have opposed the use of the term "West Coast Jazz", claiming it was merely a coincidence that so much jazz talent was placed in the same area at the same time. Up to a point this assertion is correct, but it must be remembered that jazz can only progress and develop through influence and association. Over the years the close proximity of jazz musicians in Hollywood led inevitably to the passing on of ideas and means of expression and the subsequent creation of a style. This is particularly notable in a study of the pianists. The earliest identified keyboard artiste in the new school was Joe Albany, who aroused a great deal of interest by virtue of his work on some records with Lester Young for the Aladdin label. Most musicians who followed were enthusiastic about his early work and acknowledged the influence of his playing on their own work.

One of the first pianists to work at The Lighthouse after the foundation of the Sunday concerts there by Rumsey was the Negro Hampton Hawes. He was already known in the area and had recorded with Teddy Edwards and Herbie Harper for the Rex label. Of all the pianists to follow none have played with the same amount of uninhibited swing as Hawes. His earlier work with Negro musicians gives him an advantage over his contemporaries. Frank Patchen figured on some of the earlier concerts at The Lighthouse with Shorty Rogers' Giants and was replaced by Russ Freeman. Freeman became an established West Coaster relatively quickly, largely due to his work with the Chet Baker Quartet. His facile playing contains more than an element of the glibness associated with much of the Hollywood school. More so than ever before in jazz, the head has become master of the heart. Technically Freeman's playing is excellent and on record he is best heard in the company of Shelly Manne, principally on the Contemporary LP they made together and also on the long Night Letter for Emarcy.

Marty Paich has developed from an unspectacular pianist into a more important soloist and arranger. He studied under Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the modern composer, and took a degree in composition at Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. All this did not prevent him from working with Shorty Rogers, where his economical, Basie-like style was ideally suited to the big band. He commenced writing in 1953 and representative examples will be found in Contemporary's Shelly Manne Vol. 2 (Dimension In Thirds) and "Jazz Studio Two" (Paicheck).

Claude Williamson arrived on the West Coast scene in 1953 when his discharge from the American Forces coincided with Russ Freeman's departure from The Lighthouse. Claude was not, however, an unestablished jazzman at this time, for in 1949 he had recorded a piano feature with Charlie Barnet under the tide Claude Reigns which brought him some measure of prominence. His earliest jazz influence was Teddy Wilson and his own playing later reveals a neat and orderly approach. While he has not the percussive driving force of Russ Freeman his work is hallmarked by an omnipresent tastefulness and a delicate sense of touch. He was one of the first to record for the "Kenton Presents Jazz" series on Capitol and may also be heard on the Bud Shank-Bob Cooper flute and oboe LP. His own composition for this latter album, Aquarium contains the inherent sense of elegance and delivery which makes his own playing so readily identifiable.

The remaining West Coast pianists of note include Maury Dell (who may be heard on George Redman's Skylark LP), Pete Jolly, who recorded first with Frank Rosolino and Shorty Rogers before being given a solo session for Victor, and Lorraine Geller, wife of Herb Geller. The list would be incomplete without mention here of Dave Brubeck. Brubeck now became the centre of his own esoteric school and his importance is assessed in the following chapter. As a technician he has improved slowly over the years, commencing with a touch sorely lacking in sensitivity and developing later into a musician better qualified to translate his own ideas into tangible form.

The remaining rhythm-section musicians are headed by the "veterans" Shelly Manne and Howard Rumsey. The formation of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952 emphasized the importance of the double bass as the pivot instrument. The work of Bob Whitlock and Carson Smith in this field pointed the way to future developments. Bassists previously content to mark time realized the true potentialities of their instruments, and the authoritative lines set down by both Whitlock and Smith caused a minor revolution. Joe Mondragon and Harry Babasin, both of whom had been resident in Hollywood for some years, reassessed their own importance and fell in with the new movement. Not since the days of Jimmy Blanton had the bass assumed such a position of respect and arrangers commenced to write in special parts for the instrument. At last it was realized that the correctly chosen notes played by the bass could imply a complex chord pattern.

Failing the availability of first-class musicians capable of choosing the unusual but accurate notes for themselves then the obvious solution was to score in the bass as a necessity to the strength of the group. Inspired by the success of the earlier exponents, new musicians such as Monty Budwig took their places behind the unwieldy but masterly instrument. In addition, Harry Babasin re-introduced his experiments with the 'cello in jazz. He had first recorded with this instrument on a Dodo Marmarosa session for Dial during 1947. With the founding of his own record company, Nocturne Records, he again placed the 'cello to the forefront as an interesting though not widely accepted jazz voice.

The leading guitarist resident on the Pacific Coast has been Barney Kessel, although he has hardly been a true West Coaster. After his unique contribution to Charlie Parker's 1947 record date and his stimulating work on Gene Norman's "Just Jazz" concerts, Barney became a familiar figure with the touring "Jazz At The Philharmonic" unit before making his home in Hollywood. He made two well-recorded albums for Contemporary under his own name, the first with Bud Shank, the second with Bob Cooper. His work on each places him at the very top of the list of performers on his instrument and his influence upon other guitarists is immediately apparent.

Howard Roberts was born in Arizona and came to jazz by way of "Country and Western Music"; in many ways his musical life being along parallel lines so his East Coast contemporary Johnny Smith. His resident Hollywood berth in the fifties has been with the Bobby Troup Trio, but when the occasion demands he is transformed into a dependable and accurate jazz soloist. He recorded with Bob Cooper in Capitol's "Kenton Presents" series and with the "Jazz Studio Two" and "Jazz Studio Three" assembled by Decca. He may also be heard on Bob Enevoldson's Nocturne LP and the Pacific Jazz album under Chico Hamilton's name. Laurindo Almeida, a Brazilian, got his first chance in jazz with the Stan Kenton Orchestra after the war and has been unrelenting in his attempts to wed jazz and Latin-American rhythms into a cohesive musical pattern. Although not a true jazz musician his work is extremely interesting and he has recorded several long-playing records for Capitol, Pacific Jazz and Coral.

On drums the tower of inspirational strength is Shelly Manne. The standard set by him is remarkably high and it is not surprising to find that he has few serious rivals. Larry Bunker continues to use the formulas laid down by Chico Hamilton with Mulligan and has also proved his worth as a vibes player on record with the Harry Babasin Quartet (Nocturne). Roy Harte came West from Brooklyn in the middle forties to work in a series of bands, including the Vido Musso group, which included Jimmy Giuffre and Stan Getz. His work in the recording studios is notable principally for its quantity, although his playing on jazz dates is good if somewhat unspectacular in comparison with Manne. Drummers Bobby White, Gene Gammage and George Redman have also contributed to the West Coast scene.

Finally to the vibraphone players, led by the veteran Red Norvo. Norvo has been associated with jazz since the late twenties, and his continued progress with the younger elements is not easy to understand. His original contemporaries had remained in the swing groove which they had helped to excavate, yet Norvo is capable of playing with his Trio (completed first by Tal Farlow and Charlie Mingus, and later by Jimmy Raney and Red Mitchell) without any apparent anachronistic drawbacks. He had been associated with Hollywood for some years and following his tour of Europe at the beginning of 1954 he returned to his home in the West and cut a series of records with studio assembled bands for Victor using arrangements by Shorty Rogers. Cal Tjader was the first drummer with Dave Brubeck and he doubles vibes effectively. It was on this latter instrument that he gained an entry into the George Shearing Quintet and developed an appetite for Latin-American rhythm experiments. Teddy Charles came West from New York and stayed for a couple of years. His "New Directions", which had startled some of the East Coast enthusiasts, are a long way from jazz and despite his attempts to fit the Hollywood school successfully, he remains, like Brubeck, the leader of a small school beyond the pale of the larger West Coast movement. He has recorded exclusively for Prestige and was, in fact, the company's Pacific Coast representative before returning East in 1954.

These, then, are the principal actors on the West Coast jazz stage. Their music and its value as a contribution to jazz progress will be assessed in the following chapter.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Miles Davis 1948/49 Group - from "Modern Jazz" by Morgan and Horricks

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

For the longest time, I was under the impression that the primary treatments on the subject of West Coast Jazz or, if you prefer, Jazz on the West Coast, were contained in the books written on the subject by Ted Gioia, Robert Gordon and Alain Tercinet [in French; no English translation that I am aware of].

[Gordon Jack’s fine series of interviews with prominent West Coast Jazz musicians as contained in his Fifties Jazz Talk: An Oral Retrospective and the many articles and interviews by John Tynan the West Coast Editor of Downbeat during the 1950s and early 1960s are also important sources on the subject.]

When I mentioned this observation about the Gioia-Gordon-Tercinet West Coast Jazz trilogy in casual conversation with a friend whose knowledge of all-things-West-Coast-Jazz I greatly admire he replied:

“Of course you know about the chapters on the subject in Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks Modern Jazz: A Study of Its Development Since 1939 [1956, Gollancz; Greenwood, 1977]. And then there’s also Woody Woodward’s Jazz Americana [Trend Books, 1956].

While I “knew of” Woody’s book, but didn’t own a copy, I had no knowledge of the one by Morgan and Horricks. I was aware of Alun as something akin to the Senior Dean of British Jazz critics and authors and I knew of Raymond Horricks’ compilation of a discography on Gerry Mulligan’s music, but knowledge of their writings in tandem on the subject of Modern Jazz in general and West Coast Jazz in particular had eluded me until my buddy’s reference.

With a copy of the Morgan-Horricks book now in hand and a paperbound version  of the Woody Woodward’s work on the way, I thought it would be interesting to share Alun and Raymond’s thoughts on the evolution of West Coast Jazz in a contiguous, three-part blog based on the relevant chapters from their book.

A caveat at the outset: in these racially sensitive times, one wonders about categorizations such as “White Musician” and “Negro Musician” with the connotation that the latter is superior to the former.

I suppose that it is too much to be hoped for that one day, those who play this music will simply be referred to as Jazz musicians, but in the context of the times in which the Morgan-Horricks book was written - the mid-1950’s - these distinctions were still in vogue.

For many students of Jazz, the predominant style of Jazz that developed in California primarily between 1945-1965 had its beginnings in what have come to be known as the Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool recordings.

So let’s begin there with Alun and Raymond’s take on the significance of the 1948/49 Miles Davis Group and its relationship to the development of the “Cool” style of Jazz on the West Coast.

“In September 1948 New York's Royal Roost presented a nine-piece modern jazz unit led by the young Negro trumpeter Miles Davis. In comparison with the familiar attractions at the club this group had a most unusual instrumentation. With a front-line of trumpet, trombone, alto and baritone-saxophones, French horn and tuba, it represented the first real step beyond the confines of the unison-ensemble small group. Collectively the musicians had achieved a unique orchestral effect; a confirmation of the many experiments which haphazardly had contributed to the evolution of the modern movement in jazz. Miles and his fellows had created a new sound, at last a satisfactory co-ordination of the ideas growing from the Minton theorists. Even today the group represents the highest artistic level ever attained by the modernists.

Miles made one of the worst financial flounders in the history of jazz. As a regular unit the group's duration can be counted in weeks. Its music was incomprehensible to audiences seeking only the frenzy of jazz, its appeal so esoteric that the superior musical policy was hardly appreciated outside a small circle of musicians. Yet through just three recording sessions for Capitol (supervised by Pete Rugolo) Miles achieved an orchestral cohesion never to be equalled since by a modern jazz group. Greater individual solos have been created.  Certain musicians have succeeded in expressing more drive, more abandon, more of the vital emotional inspiration so necessary to jazz. For a representation of collective modern jazz, however, and for imaginative scoring to assist and accentuate the soloist, there the group's style climbs worthily on to its historical pedestal. Without destroying the essential elements of jazz it took on the careful preparation normally found  only in  chamber and symphony music.

The thought of forming such a group was conceived by Miles Davis during the summer months of 1948. Meetings with Gerry Mulligan, then a little-known arranger and baritone player with the Claude Thornhill band, brought the opportunity to discuss the idea in practical terms. With a strong emphasis on the written aspect of jazz Miles would obviously require a concentrated pool of arranging heads. Men capable of exploiting the new group to its fullest extent. In turn Mulligan and the Thornhill staff arranger, Gil Evans, assured the trumpeter of the wide possibilities offered by such a band. Ideas for scoring were legion. With the right musicians the plan could certainly take shape.

Gradually the three men brought their blue-print to the reality stage. Through several discussions, test sessions and hours of burning the midnight oil on experimental writing, a concrete policy was laid. Basically the need was for a medium-sized group, capable of supporting soloists with scored backgrounds after the fashion of a full orchestra. They wanted to improve jazz in written form but at the same time maintain an atmosphere of relaxation for the individual. It meant the innovation of a new ensemble sound, of contrasting section voicings within the front-line. Yet these respective changes were skillfully introduced without impairing in any way the force of the rhythm section. The beat had to be preserved because it holds the key to every form of jazz. There was a conventional rhythm section, using of necessity written parts, but not restrained in its punch behind the ensemble.

The final constitution of the band was determined by several important requirements. Without being a power-house group the front-line needed depth. Miles wanted a rich, full sound, mellow in its unison voicings, but prepared for definite contrapuntal designs within the arrangements. The baritone, French horn and tuba would increase the tonal depth, offering the arrangers an ensemble range of three and a half octaves. In the overall voicing the complement of light and deeper-toned instruments was perfectly balanced. Plenty of room was left for the arranger to stress light and shade while the melody instruments were not too unwieldy to be pushed and swung by the rhythm section. The tonal quality of the ensemble could be varied considerably by the distribution of the lead parts. Looking through the group's records one can distinguish marked changes in the arranger's attack on, say, Israel with a trumpet lead and Jeru with its two-saxophone lead. The richness of voicing remains common to both, but the former has a harder edge, a stronger impact which stiffens the entire ensemble effect.

In the main, of course, the orchestra reflected the subtle, devious approach originally advocated by Lester Young. The desire to occasionally leave the obvious road and explore the beautiful woods on either side. Yet as with Lester there was a certain natural warmth about the music. Its sounds were relaxed but never in the cold, detached sense that for several years was to envelop the younger white modernists. Miles might unconsciously have pointed a finger towards the cool style, yet the relaxation of his group was no mere affectation; it was only the logical outcome of the instrumental design being used. The ensemble was never allowed to drift listlessly through the orchestrations. Continually the arrangers were taxing its elasticity with complex scoring devices and new thematic material. Many jazz groups have developed a stereotyped style through the reins being completely in the hands of one arranger. Even the best musicians are very much at the mercy of their staff writers in this respect. (Exceptions, of course, are bands portraying the written work of truly gifted minds like Ellington, Carter and Redman.) Miles wisely avoided any possibilities of this pitfall, however, by having a varied panel of arrangers, each one able to present a different facet of the ensemble scope. The music never became a stagnant pool.

A group of this kind required an acute concentration from its musicians. The wide range of material naturally placed a limit on the men Miles was able to employ. To avoid becoming a precision machine, completely devoid of all musical emotion, the trumpeter aimed for musicians who from his own acquaintance he knew to be sincere. He sought sound technicians, alert to the increased complications of transcribed jazz, yet also men with a creative ability. There was no sensational collection of soloists. No high-priced stars to disturb the productivity of the group with their purple passions and egocentric gluttony for the spotlight. The musicians were competent readers, fully conscious of their role within the group. The recorded solo work was tasteful and free from exhibition. The fact that greater individual solos have been recorded is not meant as a derogatory remark about the group. Solo contributions maintained a high standard (Miles's own imagination in particular can hardly have been more vividly inflamed by a supporting group), and this aspect of the soloists is only pointed out to illustrate more clearly the make-up of the band. Virtuoso musicians of the Gillespie and Parker calibre had given way to the younger modernists, to musicians less matured in their outlook and therefore better suited to the group's pattern. Everything was calculated to place the most pliable material in the hands of the arranger. For the guiding light of the band unquestionably shone from its reservoir of scoring talent. If any solo weakness existed it was belittled by the collective produce of the band. No other modern jazz group has ever held such a strong writing staff.

At the outset the larger proportion of the scoring came from Gerry Mulligan. It was really the first definite step in the saxist's career. Previously he'd earned appraisal from musicians for his “Disc Jockey Jump” with Gene Krupa and a little scoring for Thornhill, but the seeds of his present reputation were sown through his work with the Davis band. Having taken an active part in the construction of the ensemble, Mulligan revealed a firm grasp of its value even on his earliest scores. He wasn't the most gifted mind ever to write for the group, but in the embryonic stage of the experiment he played the most vital writing part.

Mulligan's style represents a compromise between the extremes in jazz composition of Ellington and the white school of Bill Russo. He is basically a technical writer, with none of Ellington's racial romanticism or melodic invention. A composer concerned with strong group construction as opposed to sensitive material. Yet through this medium of technique he shares the Duke's gift for writing to offset the soloist. He keeps the musician at ease with his scoring; and although a far less talented creator his work seems to carry a conviction through to the soloist. There's a rhythmic pulse in his style which has defied all attempts to class him alongside the cold abstraction of Bill Russo. The arrangements of Mulligan carry a direct attack while those of Russo are moody and introspective. They have a swing which is often found lacking in the white arrangers.

At times the role of Gerry Mulligan's composition has been exaggerated in jazz. One cannot afford admittedly to discount the obvious qualities in his work with regard to precision and orchestral control. On the other hand, Mulligan as a composer is still only a miniaturist. He is gushing with ideas regarding presentation, the actual execution of his thoughts, but his themes are limited by their own purely technical make-up. As yet they have not provided a basis for written jazz in extended form. Instead of blending into a strong melody they remain a collection of technical phrases. They cater for the soloist through the strength of their harmonic changes, but they lack the melodic beauty necessary for a logical expansion. Mulligan composes for a certain group of instruments; it's not always easy to convert his themes to other jazz groups. He is in approach the complete arranger. Here lies his real strength. The ability to cope with technical problems as they arise; to perfect the actual executive work of a group. As a baritone player he can be excused his tendency to overscore the reeds at the expense of the brass.  This mannerism has its advantage. The slight melodic content of his writing is rather enhanced by the sleek run of the saxophone voicings. It certainly seems that Mulligan is really more the engineer than the sculptor. When examining his work the arranging strength appears to dominate the actual composition.

Similarly Gil Evans's real value sprang from his understanding of the orchestra rather than from the creation of original material. Years of scoring commercial music had coated his style with a strong melodic sense, a gift for blending attractive voicings in his arrangements. In this respect Gil remained a continual asset to the group for the scoring of standard melodies. He could make alterations to the melodic lines without destroying the intrinsic beauty; create an elastic interpretation of a commercial theme to suit the style of the group. This is doubly evident in his scoring behind a vocalist. On the occasions that Kenny Hagood sang with Miles it was Gil Evans who carved the supports. He used the voice as he would a solo instrument. Hagood appeared to be surrounded, rather than backed by the group. Gil's scores are not content to occasionally stress points in the singing. They must continually be portraying the melody with him, blending tonally with his voice and adding richly-banked harmonies to the overall sound.

Other musicians had also contributed to the band's repertoire. Since coming to New York, Miles himself had studied at the Juilliard Institute and he began writing originals for the group. Single compositions came from Bud Powell, Cleo Henry and Johnny Carisi. Carisi, a little-known New York trumpeter, wrote the futuristic “Israel.” Like Emily Bronte's novel this solitary score was a masterpiece. Carisi gained the utmost effect from the contrast of sectional voices in a contrapuntal design. He tossed the theme around the ensemble like a ball, using mainly a trumpet lead, though continually playing brass against reeds, one moment swelling, the next retracting the volume of sound. Johnny arranged the composition himself for the group and presented the melody in a most dramatic light, with unusual rhythmic accents behind the sharply-defined main phrases of the theme. It is indeed unfortunate that Miles didn't record any further material by Carisi.

The trump card of Miles's arranging, however, came shortly after the group's inception. The trumpeter gained his one truly great composer in the person of pianist John Lewis. For whereas Gerry Mulligan has a competent mind for orchestral jazz, Lewis has all the gifts of a composer. While being well-versed technically, he has the imagination and the natural inspiration to create music worthy of expansion. He is the first composer since Ellington to write real jazz in extended form. His thoughts are often simple, at times invoking the serene beauty of the French Impressionists, but they may be developed along logical lines. John's writing with Miles gave one of the earliest pointers to the later developments of Negro jazz in New York. He dispelled the theory that written jazz must eventually incarcerate the natural feeling of the soloist. Intelligent writing can be sensitive to the needs of improvisation; John's orchestrations will have a scored part for every musician in the group, even to the rhythm section, and in the resulting sound not one musician will appear strained. The acute orchestral sense of Lewis provides a backing suitable to the musician. His scores have the same sympathy for Miles or Clifford Brown that Ellington's impart behind Cootie Williams. Like the Duke, his deep technical knowledge serves only as a gilt to the expression of ideas. The propensity for correctness, the orderly form of presentation, the minute detail of his construction—these elements in the make-up of John's style are the tools to model his creations. Being a sound technician increases the power of his portrayal. It is employed to develop not to submerge jazz. Every group for whom John Lewis writes appears to be illuminated by his ideas. The Miles Davis unit was no exception.

When selecting the musicians for the group Miles made no distinctions regarding colour. The men were required for a band pattern, not a prolonged jam session.  Considering that most musicians are normally reluctant to join experimental units, the response to the trumpeter's venture yielded a good harvest of rapidly developing soloists. The band represented a strong racial co-operation; probably the final alliance of any importance prior to the movement of modern white jazz to the West Coast.

The white musicians again came chiefly from the Claude Thornhill band. Mulligan on baritone, tuba player John Barber, bassist Joe Shulman and the young altoist Lee Konitz were the first to cross over to the new group. French horn player Sandy Siegelstein joined from Thornhill shortly afterwards.

Mulligan had already developed into a confident soloist at this time. His soft intonation became a familiar solo sound with the group and minimized the absence of a tenorman. Actually Gerry handles this normally unwieldy saxophone with the facility one might expect from a tenor. He slides lucidly through each register with the structural perfection so typical of his writing. Although it would be hard to imagine him unleashing the full emotional force of a great Negro saxophone player he does play with a beat. In a way he suffers from the elegance of his expression. Rather than risk one badly-phrased note he will abandon the gutty impetus of a baritone player like Harry Carney. Restraint can be an aid to beautiful phrasing, but too much of it can also withhold the feeling from a solo. The inspiration remains within the musician instead of being communicated through his playing to the listener. Taste and technique remain Mulligan's gods. He impresses the intellect as a fine musician, but fails to arouse the same excitement as a gushing, forceful blower like Charlie Fowlkes, the less technically minded baritone player with Basie.

Joe Shulman, really a disciple of the Tristano school, produced a strong drive behind the ensemble. Barber and Siegelstein were sound studio musicians, chosen to play the difficult written parts, and on record they blend well with the various voicings. Lee Konitz was perhaps a less happy choice for the group. The altoist was already infatuated with the cold, almost abstract style of improvisation. His playing was fluent but concerned entirely with technique for its own sake. The ideas displayed no strong melodic content. On record, at least, their ring is shallow. Even the tone has the limp, dewy tracery of a water-lily. Beautiful yet so fragile. When Konitz joined the Kenton orchestra several years later his style underwent a rapid change of face. He began to blow with a piercing tone; to swing instead of merely moving mechanically with the beat. Obviously the altoist was passing through an awkward phase while with Miles. He seems unsure of his true position in jazz and only rarely does his solo work flicker with inspiration.

Miles opened with Kai Winding, the Danish-born musician on trombone. Later he brought in Jay Jay Johnson, the greatest technician of the younger Negro trombonists. As with John Lewis's composition, Johnson uses his technique to create jazz. He swings all the time. He has a very direct attack as opposed to the poetic, fanciful flights of Benny Green. For the easy swing and tonal beauty he is slightly outclassed by Benny, though for range and swift articulation he is ahead of everyone. Johnson handles his slide with the apparent ease of a valve trombone.

Pianist Al Haig (like Kai Winding) only made the first recording session with the group. Shortly afterwards John Lewis took over the position. On drums Max Roach was reading the parts without difficulty. Nothing ever disturbed the precision of his playing. His beat remained a tower of strength behind the ensemble; light, relaxed, pliable to the rhythmic contrasts, yet swinging all the way.

Crowning the group was Miles himself, one of the most sincere soloists in modern jazz. A trumpeter whose artistic expression transcends all criticism of his technical shortcomings. It is true that Miles is dwarfed as a technician when ranked alongside the dynamic virtuoso Gillespie. He was quick to grasp the scored side of modern jazz and the new styles of phrasing, yet his trumpet lacks a powerful tone. His tone is soft, noticeably warm but clouded in comparison with the cutting edge of Gillespie's or Navarro's. This naturally reduces the impact of his top-register work. With continued practice Miles' technique today has improved beyond measure, as indeed his recordings with the younger New York school will show. At the time of the Capitol sessions, however, he found it difficult to blow a sustained high note. His phrasing was often clipped, staccato style as he avoided the longer melodic lines.

The group's arrangers recognized these drawbacks and avoided taxing his technique unduly. They conceived subdued backgrounds with organ-styled harmonies to cushion the natural relaxation of his playing. Given this support the trumpeter excelled himself. One can sense him feeling the expression of every note. The phrasing is precise but garnished by many beautiful ideas. Miles had a most fertile imagination. His logical development of a theme cannot be darkened by the technical faults. The inspiration given to him by the group greatly reduced the hesitancy of his early solos with Charlie Parker.

Miles first took the group into the Capitol recording studios on January 21, 1949. With him on the date were Mulligan, Konitz, Winding, Junior Collins (French horn), Barber, Haig, Shulman and Roach. They recorded four scores: “Godchild,” “Budo,” “Jeru” and “Move.”

“Godchild,” a composition of the modern pianist George Wallington, was arranged by Gerry Mulligan. From the opening bars of the theme the saxist draws back the curtains to reveal the complete ensemble range. The composition has an ascending main phrase and Gerry opens the score with the tuba, the deepest voice, leading the front-line, then moves the phrase to the lighter instruments so that the trumpet seems to fly upwards from the full ensemble. Miles must have been very impressed by this design, for he flows from the written line into one of his best recorded solos. A lyrical piece of invention, expressed with the normal subdued but feeling approach. It is interesting to note from the record how Mulligan has determined to obtain a maximum expansion of the composition. For the final thirty-two bars, instead of merely reiterating the opening chorus, he has conceived a new thematic statement, with an entirely different melody built over Wallington's chord sequence. This is a breach of jazz ethics which should occur more often. The imagination of an arranger ought not to be lazily curbed by the satisfaction of producing an original theme. If the composition is worthy of further development then the material should not be wasted.

The moody “Budo,” as its title implies, was officially composed by pianist Bud Powell. Bud also recorded the theme himself under the alias “Hallucinations.” Actually the piece has more structural tissue than is normally found in his pretty piano compositions. This bears out his own admittance that Miles helped to write the piece. With the exception of “Tempus Fugit,” Bud's piano themes have never really lent themselves as features for a group. We think Miles took a major part in composing this one. “Jeru,” on the other hand, can be easily identified as a Gerry Mulligan composition. This is one of the baritone man's typical swingers with its light reed voicing and smoothly-riding phrases. The supple movement of the ensemble is fully demonstrated here. Underlined by Max Roach's superb open cymbal work, the whole band swings along in complete concord.

John Lewis scored the fourth title, “Move,” a composition by drummer Denzil Best. His close interplay of the reeds and brass immediately gives the impression of a much larger band. “Move” is not a theme of great melodic power. It gives itself to orchestral exploitation essentially as a piece of impact; the rather plain phrases flimsily cover a series of strong rhythmic accents. John's score, poised perfectly on the beat, seems to incite every member of the group to uncoil and blow with remarkable force. The punching ensemble is most impressive for a smallish jazz group. Nothing is strained about the sound. The effect has the freedom of a head arrangement. With records of this standard it becomes very difficult not to admire the abilities of John Lewis in modern jazz.

On April 22, 1949, Miles recorded four further scores. With a reshuffle of musicians the personnel read as follows: Miles (trumpet), Jay Jay Johnson (trombone), Sandy Siegelstein (French horn), John Barber (tuba), Lee Konitz (alto), Gerry Mulligan (baritone), John Lewis (piano), Nelson Boyd (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums). Nelson Boyd had played with the Gillespie big band in 1948. He joined Miles from Charlie Barnet. Although preferring a four-string bass to the more commonly accepted five strings, Nelson generates a powerful force behind the ensemble. His sure-fingered accuracy is yet another case to point of a fine musician playing in an artistic, but completely unappreciated group. Kenny Clarke, of course, was the foremost pioneer of the modern drumming system. In joining the band he renewed a long-standing musical association with John Lewis. Whilst in the Army Kenny had been the first modernist to recognize the pianist's writing talents. Later he'd introduced him to Gillespie. At the end of Dizzy's European tour of 1948 the drummer had stayed on in Paris to teach and record with some of the younger French musicians. This record date was his first important engagement after returning to the New York scene.

The scores used on the session were Gerry Mulligan's “Venus De Milo,” Johnny Carisi's “Israel,” John Lewis's “Rouge” and Cleo Henry's “Boplicity.” Lewis had also arranged the last-named composition. Mulligan again incited the leader to conceive a really fine solo with his “Venus De Milo” tribute theme. The piece has an attractive melody and the later trumpet improvisation does it full justice. In turn “Rouge” must have bubbled into a fountain of inspiration for Lee Konitz, because his sixteen-bar solo here is without question the happiest thing he ever recorded with Miles. The thirty-two bar opening theme portrays a well-balanced contrapuntal design between the deep and lighter toned instruments. It is a clever statement, every instrument being expertly woven into the complete tapestry. Even the middle-eight is a perfect fit. Instead of standing as a passage of sharp relief it traces in its final two bars a logical reintroduction for the main melodic line. The relaxation only arrives with John's subsequent piano solo—a simple, unruffled half chorus over light background harmonies from the front-line. Konitz follows, flashing into double time, then relapsing in favour of easy, legato phrases. Apart from the solo interest of the succeeding chorus by Miles it's worthwhile noting how John builds up the ensemble strength behind the trumpet, gradually stacking the instruments in preparation for the final theme statement. A closing point of interest is the skillful key modulation in the coda.

In contrast the rich tonal shading in the melancholy “Boplicity” reflects the sensitive touch of Lewis. Employing a thick voicing, dominated by the deeper sounds of the ensemble, the pianist succeeds in creating a mood of ultra-relaxation. His impression of serenity and shadows has been faithfully captured on the score-sheet. Towards the conclusion he takes a piano solo and even as an active band musician he continues the pattern of his mood. There are no thoughts of a technical flag-waver. Obviously he has deeply considered the atmosphere of the piece and constructed his solo in agreement with its solemnity.

The third and final Capitol session took place on March 13, 1950; organized in the aftermath of the band's complete financial failure. Throughout America modern jazz groups were trying to imitate the voicings and complex scores propagated by Miles, yet the public refused to appreciate the fountain-head. An ironic gesture. So typical of the crave for sensationalism in jazz. Musical value is ignored. Anything bizarre and pretentious is automatically swallowed. This session was Miles' swan-song as a leader, but still a tribute to his sincere ideals.

With him in the studio that day were Jay Jay Johnson, Gunther Schuller (French horn), John Barber, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, Al McKibbon (bass) and Max

Roach. McKibbon, another fine bassist, plays with a full, clean tone. He'd played on and off with Gillespie since 1947. Like Nelson Boyd he imparted a definite drive behind the group. Again four scores were used at the session: the two standards, “Darn That Dream” and “Moon Dreams,” Miles' “Deception” and Gerry Mulligan's “Rocker.” “Darn That Dream” has an impressive score built by Gil Evans around Kenny Hagood. It proves a most intelligent setting for the voice within a jazz group. While Kenny's expression of the melody remains the focal point of attention it appears to ride lightly with the ensemble in the manner of a solo instrument. “Moon Dreams” may also be a Gil Evans score, yet in parts one senses the methods of John Lewis again. There is that same blending of the deeper voices that John introduced with “Boplicity.” Principally it remains an orchestral feature. The solo work is limited to four bars from Lee Konitz and four from Mulligan. (Miles's trumpet is used sparingly as a lead instrument, occasionally playing accents to the wistful melodic line.) One central passage strongly recalls the Lewis touch. From Mulligan's solo the instruments assemble for an ascending phrase, then are one by one peeled away until only a sustained high note from Konitz remains; a thin, watery sound, quite the extreme from the rich ensemble which moments later engulfs it. “Deception” and “Rocker” use faster rhythms. The former has a complex interplay of instruments but reveals a chord sequence based on Shearing's “Conception.” Mulligan's tune is a thirty-two bar, with the main-eight revolving around a reiterated three-note phrase. For this score the saxist again built a second theme over the chord sequence. He features it in a central ensemble chorus, then breaks the pattern in eight bars of solo baritone to reintroduce the original melody.

Perhaps the most unfortunate feature of the band's dissolution lay in the section of its score-book which remained unrecorded. Several items like “Broadway Theme” (a Max Roach feature), John Lewis's “S’il Vous Plait” and another Evans-Hagood collaboration, “Why Do I Love You?,” were privately recorded during Royal Roost concerts. Yet part of the repertoire has presumably been shelved for ever. While so much musically sterile material was being recorded at a prolific rate by commercial groups the precious Davis book received only a coating of dust.

One of the most significant qualities of true jazz is its durability. The records we have by this short-lived band even today do not appear in the least dated by the latest developments in jazz. No one can claim to have advanced upon the Davis formula and yet still be creating jazz. Certain musicians have introduced new technical devices, but the frantic search for fresh sounds has not innovated a modern voicing to out-class the nine-piece unit of Miles. And while the band as an active force may have been silenced, its individual musicians have continued to infiltrate their ideas through to the newer experiments in jazz. Konitz, after having absorbed much of the Tristano influence, turned to a big band and stamped the cool alto style of the younger white modernists. Mulligan, via arranging for Kenton and Elliot Lawrence, made his way to the West Coast, where he innovated the designs for a piano-less quartet and a ten-piece group which partly followed the path of Miles' band. John Lewis laid the foundations for the written side of the New York school. Miles, Jay Jay and Max Roach began to shape the solo styles of the younger New Yorkers. The nine-piece unit was the last real act of co-operation by the white and coloured factions of the younger modernists. These factions have now gone their separate ways. As a result the racial affinity of ideas which came through the Minton movement has been torn asunder. The younger Negro modernists feel unable to participate in the trends of white technical development now growing on America's Pacific Coast. They are guarding more jealously the emotional elements of jazz in their search for advancement. In consequence the same separation of white and coloured jazz which existed with the swing era of the thirties has now returned.”