Saturday, February 27, 2021
© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
On January 12th and 13th, 1953, Shorty Rogers and His Giants recorded eight tracks that would further the reputations of all the musicians. Milt Bernhart had been added to the group on trombone and this album would spread rapidly across the country to eager fans who knew these players from their Kenton days. But this was not Kenton music. Rogers used ingenious tools to make simple melodies and riffs explode into a new kind of sound. When listening to this music of almost 70 years ago, one is pleasantly surprised at how fresh it still seems. The clean, tight musical lines always surprise the listener, and Shelly's innovative swinging style constantly propels the band. On the ballad "Bunny," he fills several empty spots with a triangle, then turns the bridge into a "happening" beguine with his brushes, then a brief double-time figure before the band returns. Throughout this album his impeccable time is obvious, as well as his incredible musical taste.
Because of the improvements in recording techniques, this is the first time a serious listener can really hear the subtleties that Shelly used to enhance the music. On "Diablos Dance," he plays a tambourine (resting on the drum head of his floor torn torn) on the intro and during the interludes between the straight-ahead swinging sections. While working at the Lighthouse, Shelly had a crow call come into his possession and he would often use it to "fill" a void. On the Latin tunes, Shorty played all the time, either trumpet or cowbell. As Shorty brought in more mambo charts for the band to play, it was inevitable lhat Shelly's humor would find its way into the tune that was eventually titled "Mambo Del Crow." Shorty comments about the arrangement and the January recording session — "At that time Latin rhythms... you know, you'd come to the end of a phrase and there would be a little break. I wrote it as a break, nothing comes on in there, and during the rehearsal Shelly would blow on the crow thing. Then when we did a take, he wouldn't do it. Jack Lewis, the producer, flipped out and said, 'No! Leave that in. I want -to call it 'Mambo Del Crow'!"' They not only -kept it in, but Shelly is also heard "blowing" the call just before the final notes of the recording. CAW! CAW!
On February 3rd, a slightly altered Lighthouse band recorded some Rogers arrangements that were really a tongue-in-cheek put on. They masqueraded as a Rhythm and Blues band under the name of Boots Brown and His Blockbusters. Shorty Rogers, being a composer and arranger of some reputation because of his Herman and Kenton writings, was making some inroads into the studio scene. Pete Rugolo had paved the way with his own entry into some sessions. Often, when a "jazz" sequence was needed for "source music"(music heard in the movie from a radio or record player or TV set), they would hire a jazz composer to write something. While it would make sense to hire jazz players for this music, the same old problem arose. The contractors would use the staff musicians. But as the need for more contemporary music came about, some of the jazz musicians made their way into the hallowed halls of the studios. The Kenton experience had, unknowingly, prepared these great jazz musicians for studio work. Bob Cooper had learned to play oboe for the Innovations bands; alto saxophonist Bud Shank had auditioned for the Kenton Innovations II tour as someone who could double on flute. French horn player John Graas was already in the studio scene when he became associated with the Kenton orchestra. Shorty, on one occasion, worked Shank into a film session because he could play bass sax and Shorty insisted on that instrument. Hope and Crosby fans were able to hear a part of Rugolo's "Artistry in Percussion" in their Road To Bali, and yes, that's Shelly Manne playing the drums during the dance of the harem girls.
Some of the movie music moguls were sending spies down to the Lighthouse to watch the musicians' behavior. They wanted to see if they were some kind of dope fiends or drunks or some other kind of unsavory characters. To their astonishment, they found hard-working dedicated pros who were not only dependable, but workhorses. Shelly was not a drinker and Jimmy Giuffre was nicknamed "Juice-free." The Hollywood boys were not only impressed with the music, but with the musicians as well. And of course, there was the exuberant, funny and personable Shelly Manne, who Rumsey says "was as responsible as anybody for the success of the club." There were scenes in a film noir called The Glass Wall that called for a jazz club scene in a New York setting. The movie starred Vittorio Gassman running all over Manhattan. Hired for the film were Shorty and Shelly, Jack Teagarden, and Benny Carter among others. The band was filmed playing on a set that looked strangely like the Metropole in New York. The musicians were all lined up in a row, along a wall, on the narrow bandstand behind the bar.
On March 26th and April 2nd, 1953, Shorty recorded his first big band album under his own name. "During the time I was involved with Gene Norman, he was a very busy guy, very skillful in business. He had a guy named Jack Lewis working for him and Jack would cover all the bases that Gene didn't have time to do, so when we got the Giants' album out, Jack was seeing people at RCA and trying to make an entry there as a producer. They were doing a minimal amount of jazz there and he spoke to the big wheel who promptly said, 'I have a title that I love and I need an album to fulfill the title.' Jack asked 'What's the title?' and the guy said 'Cool and Crazy' and Jack said, 'I gotta band for ya!' We didn't get in the back door, we got in the side door."
The two big band sessions featured seventeen of the very best jazz players on the Coast. The voicings using the tuba and French horn had been heard on the January small band sessions, but in a bigger band format, they seemed to further expand the sound. By now the jazz fans were clamoring for more Giants albums and this record would be a jazz hit — and a very important record for Shelly Manne.
At the Lighthouse the search was on for a new pianist and, according to Rumsey, "It was between a very young Pete Jolly and Russ Freeman." Shelly suggested Freeman with whom he had played on sessions all around the L.A. area. Freeman remembers — "I started at the Lighthouse in April... I was only there for four or five months. We instantly hit it off. Shelly was a very funny, humorous guy. I remember one time at the Lighthouse he took a couple of metal ice scoops with the long handles and he squatted down and put them on his knees looking like a catcher with the points coming up. Stuff out of nowhere!" Shelly and Russ would share a bandstand for the next twenty years, with very few interruptions.
Just four days after the Giants' session, Shelly Manne began work on his own album under the name of Shelly Manne and His Men. This first Contemporary album grew out of the friendship that Shelly and Les Koenig had developed. Les was an avid fan of the Giants and of Shelly Manne, and this was the beginning of a long personal and business relationship between the drummer and the record producer. Les gave Shelly carte blanche in the material he was to record and Shelly turned to friends Bill Russo, Marty Paich, Giuffre and Rogers for the material. The first day of recording saw a group consisting of Bob Enevoldsen on valve trombone, Coop on tenor, Giuffre on baritone sax, Paich on piano, Shelly, and — because of a contractual conflict with another label — an alto player called Art "Salt"(Pepper). Russo's "Gazelle" features the airy saxes in full flight, propelled by Shelly's marvelous brushwork. Russo also arranged You and the Night and the Music featuring a sax section sound that had been heard in the new Kenton book of the '52-'53 band. Shorty wrote Mallets that featured Shelly's by-now famous use of the drums as a melodic instrument. Rogers also penned La Mucura that has the band weaving swinging jazz in and out of a medium up-tempo Afro-Cuban chart. The second half of this session would have to wait. The musicians were called to do some film soundtracks. The filmmakers were starting to hire jazz players!
Leith Stevens was a big name in the film music industry, and now it was suggested by perhaps Brando himself that he use Shorty Rogers to arrange the music and play for a movie called Hot Blood. Rogers gathered around him the musicians he had come to know and trust, and from whom he could expect the very best. He had always admired the confidence with which Shelly approached every musical situation. Now the nucleus of "the Lighthouse gang" would be providing the jazz sound track for one of the very first (and one of the most important) cult movies. The movie would star Marlon Brando as the leader of a motorcycle gang that terrorizes a small community. All the music magazines talked about the soon-to-be-released Columbia movie, now retitled The Wild One. When the movie opened, jazz fans throughout the country made their way to the theater to see the critically acclaimed film — and hear the jazz stars of the West Coast perform throughout the soundtrack. The opening scene in the Stanley Kramer Production shows a motorcycle gang speeding down a highway and accompanying the sounds of the Harleys, is the unmistakable Shorty Rogers' "Giants” sound exploding onto the soundtrack. The sounds of Milt Bernhart's trombone and Shelly's Latin rhythms are heard as source music from a tavern juke box and almost all of the movie's music is pure Rogers. It seems a simple thing today, but in the innocence of the mid-1950s, to hear modern jazz played by music heroes on the big screen was a thrill-and-a-half. "Hip" words that had made their way from the mouths of black musicians were generously sprinkled through the script. Words and phrases like "crazy," "give me some skin," "Daddyo," "jive," "dig the rebop," and "square," were tossed about while the jukebox played the latest jazz. The movie was either depicting or helping to cause the beginnings of a youthful rebellion that hasn't stopped today. In reality, of course, there were no little towns with Shorty Rogers selections on the jukebox. Instead of the intricate drumming of Shelly Manne, the local teenagers sat in their favorite restaurant booth and inserted a nickel at a time to hear The Doggie In The Window or Oh! Mein Pa-Pa.
By this time, the term "West Coast Jazz" was coined by critics, record producers and promoters. When Shelly first heard the phrase, he laughed. Nobody involved in this music was from the West Coast! Shelly was as New York as one could get, complete with his "New Yawk'' accent. Rogers, born in Massachusetts, spent most of his early years in New York City. Russ Freeman was born in Chicago, as was Bernhart, and Giuffre was a Texan! Not a true "Westcoaster'' among 'em. Immediately, the term became an aggravation for the musicians. "We would have been doing the same thing if we were back east," Rogers states. For many fans, "West Coast Jazz" would be the only jazz for them. The musicians in New York and Philadelphia jumped on the bandwagon by stating that the stuff from California didn't swing, wasn't jazz. Yet, when one listens to many of the albums recorded during this period, they swing like crazy.
The "experimental" things that Rogers, Paich, Montrose and Giuffre were doing, were extensions of what Kenton had attempted with his big band. But most of the music recorded during this period was a swinging kind of bop, and the fact that it was executed so cleanly by excellent musicians, shouldn't detract from this fact. Two excellent books, Jazz West Coast by Robert Gordon (Quartet Books, London) and West Coast Jazz by Ted Gioia (Oxford University Press) closely examine the works of these musicians. To argue the point about the term "West Coast Jazz" is not the purpose of this feature. The musicians involved hated it.
Away from the Hollywood recording studios and sound-stages, the rest of the country turned their radios on (or perhaps the new TV) and heard a Wisconsin Senator claim that there was a Communist under every bed. The Korean conflict was winding down and the country "liked Ike." Lurking in the shadows were the beginnings of Rock and Roll. "Country" was well represented in the song writings of 1953.
"Changing Partners," "Crying In The Chapel," "Gambler's Guitar," and a thing called "Rock Around The Clock" would soon be heard on the juke boxes at the local lunch counters and on the speakers at the drive-in theater. While the ex-Kentonites were intellectualizing jazz, the rest of the country was slipping from the music of the big band era into a countryfied mixed bag of Rhythm & Blues and Hillbilly Heaven.
With the popularity of the Giants and the promising outlook lor more studio work, Shelly, along with Shorty, Freeman and Giuffre, departed from the Lighthouse Cafe. Shelly gave Rumsey two weeks' notice and during this time, Max Roach had been contacted and had accepted the drum position at the club. So, in June of 1953, Shelly and Max posed for a picture commemorating the transfer — from one pioneer bebop drummer to another. Howard Rumsey vividly recalls the musical change brought about by Manne's exodus. "Shelly played right in the center of the beat, while Max played quite a bit ahead of the beat." This caused the players some temporary consternation in adjusting to the new feeling. "Max was a true gentleman. We worked some shopping center day gigs where they asked us to wear straw hats, stuff like that, and he never once complained." Roach would work out his 6 month contract, then returned to New York.
On July 20, 1953, the remainder of Shelly’s first album was put on tape at the Contemporary Studios. Sweets, written by Bill Russo in honor of Harry "Sweets" Edison of Basic fame, is a free and happy swinging chart. Shorty penned a ballad, Afrodesia, that featured Bud Shank's alto, and Paich used some interesting compositional tools, seldom heard before this recording, on You're My Thrill. But it was Giuffre's Fugue that the critics talked about. This was truly intellectual jazz, this is what some were labeling "the West Coast movement." The music was atonal, contrapuntal, and Shelly was using the drums in a way that had never been heard in jazz. The torn toms are tuned to play important integral notes in the piece and Giuffre has placed the drums on an equal musical level with the rest of the group. This was one of the first examples of the truly avant-garde forms of jazz with which Shelly would be associated. The liner notes for the album were written by Nesuhi Ertegun who, along with Koenig, would often get together with the jazz players after club dates for "breakfast." He would later become the head of Atlantic records.
In August, Teddy Charles added to the "experimental" scene with an album called Evolution and Shelly continued his unique approach to doing the unexpected — playing music on drums. Another August session had Shelly playing straight-ahead on a studio recording with Ike Carpenter and His Orchestra. The date included a young singer by the name of Andy Williams. In October Leith Stevens assembled Shorty's band, called it the 'Leith Stevens All Stars,' and recorded an album called The Wild One, capitalizing on the popularity of the movie.
In October, Shelly recorded albums with guitarist Barney Kessel, Chet Baker and Russ Freeman, By this time Shelly and Russ were working fairly regularly with the Giants at Zardi's, The Haig, and other popular jazz clubs in Los Angeles. In December Chet Baker used Shelly on a session that used three saxes, rhythm section and Baker for Pacific Jazz. Just four days later Shelly Manne and His Men started work on Shelly's second album as a leader. The first album had featured saxes; this album would use brass, you might say a brass choir. The liner notes call this album a continuance of "the West Coast workshop idea begun in Shelly's first album." The cover proudly stated that this album was recorded under the supervision of the composers. Along with the serious nature of the music and the musicians, the producers were continuing the concept that Kenton had started some years back. Jazz didn't have to be limited to a twelve-bar blues played in a smoky joint (though these musicians were still doing just that several nights a week).
Bob Cooper's composition was called Divertimento For Brass & Rhythm. Keep in mind that most of these jazz composers/players were studying composition with a variety of teachers and when they were asked to explain their works in the liner notes, their descriptions sound very unlike stereotype jazz musicians talking. The music was and is remarkably surprising. Coop's contribution was contrapuntal in a minor mode and Shelly states the basic rhythm pattern on cymbals, then in unison with the ensemble. Then the band swings and then restates the rhythmic theme. There was a repeated give and take, theme, then swing. Bill Holman wrote Lullaby, and Shelly once again plays the toms like timpani, echoing the theme. (Holman, first through his work with Kenton, then for films, would become one of the most important jazz writers of the 20th Century.) The most ambitious track of the album is Etude De Concert, a Jack Montrose work. The piece begins with a gentle conversation between piano and toms, once again with mallets, then explodes into a swinging exchange between the ensemble (without drums) and Shelly. The brass choir features some interesting tuba statements, then a swinging exchange between Russ Freeman and Shelly until the valve-trombone solo by Enevoldsen takes it into almost a ballad tempo. Then the rhythmic statement, an up tempo solo by Shorty and finally, the contrapuntal theme returns with Shelly echoing the original concept with a fading snare drum figure.
Marty Paich offered a thing called Dimension In Thirds, a happy swinging, fairly straight-ahead chart (for this album). The rhythmic lines sound very familiar to the style Rogers had developed and the ensemble sound is very choir-like. On the other hand, Shorty wrote Shapes, Motions, Colors that was more involved than his earlier writings. He was studying with Dr. Wesley La Violette and was interested in Bartok and Schoenberg. He gave Shelly plenty of room to solo in and out of textures that include classical, Latin, and swing. A long work involving complex patterns, there are moments that are purely the Rogers sound that give the composition a feeling of tension and release.
Giuffre's Alternation could very well be the music track for a film of intrigue. Giuffre had studied with La Violette for several years and felt that this was the direction jazz would take. For serious drum students, this album, perhaps more than any other, demonstrates the fantastic ability Shelly Manne had in playing in almost any kind of capacity. He was completely adaptable to any musical situation, capable of playing complex "timpani" parts in one measure, and swinging at the drop of a hat in the next. Though the music on this recording is controversial to some, remember that this was the music Shelly chose for his own album at that particular time. He was constantly curious, desirous to innovate, experiment and above all, swing!
To be concluded in Part 3
[Research for this feature includes Raymond Horricks, These Jazzmen of Our Time, Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks, Modern Jazz: A Survey of Developments Since 1939, Gene Lees, Woody Herman, Leader of the Band, Michael Sparke’s Stan Kenton: This is An Orchestra!, Dr. William Lee, Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm, Steven Harris, The Kenton Kronicles, Burt Korall’s Drummin’ Men, Jack Brand and Bill Korst, Shelly Manne: Sounds of A Different Drummer, Georges Paczynski, Une Histoire De La Batterie De Jazz, a host of Down Beat, Metronome, Esquire and Modern Drummer magazines, websites such as Drummerworld and a bunch of liner notes to Shelly’s many LPs and CDs.]
Friday, February 26, 2021
© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
From the standpoint of 70 years later, it's hard to imagine what the world was like in 1951 in terms of the burgeoning developments in Southern California.
A little over 5 years earlier, the Second World War - a catastrophe that claimed an estimated 75 million military and civilian deaths - had drawn to a close.
Many of the U.S. servicemen who had served and fought in the Pacific campaigns of the war, remembered the bountiful sunshine, blue skies and yearlong mild temperatures of SoCal from their stationing at navy bases in San Diego and Long Beach, or at the Camp Pendleton US Marines Base in Oceanside, CA or at US Army and Army Air Force bases throughout the area.
The aircraft companies of Hughes, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed and a host of war materials support companies were now making the transition to commercial production, the Hollywood movie [and soon to be television] studios were gearing up for a huge outpouring of feature films and the fresh fruit and vegetable growers in the five county area in and around Los Angeles [in conjunction with those in the Central Valley of the state] would soon be supplying 85% of the nation's needs for such produce.
Manufacturing, construction, retail and service jobs abounded, developmental land was plentiful and cheap which fueled a a spectacular boom in affordable housing; all prime ingredients for those seeking normality following years of ruinous war.
It was a great place to start a new life as a young man or woman and/or marry and raise a family and to rejoice in 56,500 square miles of beautiful beaches, inland valleys, mountains and desserts.
It was also soon to be a great place to be a Jazz musician especially if you had good music reading skills because artistic and commercial gigs were continuing to grow and develop as the decade of the 1950 in southern California bore witness to one of the largest internal migration in the nation's history.
Shorty Rogers had decided not to do the second Stan Kenton Innovations tour and had stayed in L.A. to "give it another try." Before the first Innovations tour — after his stint with Woody Herman — he had attempted to make Los Angeles his home, but work was scarce. He was trying to raise a family on casual playing dates and wedding reception gigs for $4 or $5. "It was still Post-World War II and I was working at about my old high school salary." When the chance to play and write for the huge Kenton experiment came along, he jumped at it. Before Rogers joined Kenton, two bass players, Joe Mondragon and Arnold Fishkin, had moved into the Rogers house, each chipping in $25 a month for room and board. During their early struggles to survive, the three musicians had found a North Hollywood restaurant on Lankershim Boulevard called Rumsey's Chicken Pie House, where they could all eat for under a buck. Shorty recalls — 'The maître d' comes over and says, 'Hey, you guys musicians?’ Il turned out to be ex-Kenton bass player Howard Rumsey. "Howard's family owned the eatery and he was working there in between gigs. I struck up a friendship with Howard and on a holiday vacation when I came home (from the Kenton band), he called me up and asked me if I'd like to work New Year's Eve at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. I said great, and I went down there and it was a real fun thing to do." Rumsey said he'd like to keep in touch and it evolved into — "Shorty, if you ever want a steady job in L.A., we're ready to take you on at the Lighthouse."
After all the bands Rogers had been with, it was the first time he'd been offered a steady job on the Coast. By mid-1951, Rogers was working the club on a steady basis. "I was there not that long and Shelly and I spoke on the phone or got together in person, I forget which, but we spoke a lot to each other and the thing kind of came up — and I said maybe he would like to try the thing at the Lighthouse. Shelly followed me in after a short time (briefly during the late spring of 1951). Jimmy Giuffre, who was on Woody's band with Shelly and I, came in and it was kind of the original group that became known as the Lighthouse All-Stars. On weekends they'd bring in Maynard Ferguson, Art Pepper, Milt Bernhart, Gerry Mulligan, a lot of guys. That was the start of, for the sake of not knowing another term, the so-called 'West Coast Jazz’ movement."
Though Giuffre and Rogers were studying composition, they were writing straight ahead jazz things for the Lighthouse group. Shorty comments — "The physical part of writing arrangements for a quintet, tenor and trumpet, two B flat instruments, you write one part and tell the tenor to play an octave higher, read it an octave higher — and just the rhythm section part. It turned into a thing where every night new things were coming into the book. It got crazy, there were hundreds of things. You’d bring a lot of arrangements in and they'd be simply numbered, but the guys would come up with crazy titles, tongue-in-cheek stuff."
By the end of 1951, after the Kenton Innovations II tour, Shelly Manne was a regular at the funky little club officially named the Lighthouse Café. He was recording and doing studio work with Jerry Gray's band and working some casuals, including some daytime things with Rumsey. Drummer Larry Bunker had replaced Remo Belli, and Louie Bellson and Alvin Stoller had played at the Lighthouse. Shelly now replaced Bunker who would soon be working with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. The club was simply a joint located near the ocean, and outside it looked like a hundred other beach joints, nothing like a lighthouse. The band was hired to play Tuesday through Sunday — and what a Sunday. It was a double gig that was twelve hours long — 2 p.m. till 2 a.m.! Bob Cooper remembered everybody hanging on the posts by closing. Sundays paid $50 a musician. It was a loud and happy beach club and the musicians played what they wanted. A mirror angled above the bandstand allowed the fans to watch the hands of the piano player and the tops of Shelly's drums. It was, for the most part, a session place with select players sitting in. Occasionally, Costanzo would play bongos, or Carlos Vidal, who had worked with Shelly on the last Innovations band, would sit in. Shelly would play a set of timbales which he positioned on his left side by the hi hats. Latin was happening, both for the patrons and the musicians.
While it was great fun and the guys could come up with new tunes, Shelly was again in a rhythm section that he had to make cook. Pianist Frank Patchen was a fair jazz keyboardist and though Rumsey had played with several name bands, he was not a strong modern player. He did, however, have a unique talent in hiring great musicians and the Lighthouse would become the West Coast's answer to what Minton's in Harlem had been. Rumsey liked the professionalism of the ex-Kenton guys — they were dependable. "I only hired guys that were good public relations people." New music was being born. "I was, musically, a generation older than the guys. I understood that from the start." The jazz being played was, like the patrons, loud and hard-swinging, but there was some interesting writing going on.
Shelly hadn't been off the Kenton band a month when the "Lighthouse All Stars" were recorded live on December 27th at the club (without Rumsey's permission). It was later sold to Xanadu for release and Rumsey was sent a check for $100 which he never cashed. The session featured Art Pepper and the sound quality is not very good, but the fervor of the club is captured. Shelly did a studio session with fellow ex-Hermanite Pete Candoli in early January of 1952, his own septet date on the 7th, and four sides with the Jerry Gray Orchestra a week later.
Kenton was scuffling trying to find a drummer to replace the irreplaceable. Stan literally went to Shelly’s new house one morning to see if he could get his old drummer to come back until a suitable replacement could be arranged. Shelly had to refuse. He was starting a new life. A young Frankie Capp had played drums with the band for a while, and while he could read, he was not yet a seasoned player and Kenton's book was tough, especially after Shelly's tenure. Kenton finally got Stan Levey, who could play but at that time didn't read well. Levey had left Philadelphia when only 16 to play with Dizzy Gillespie on 52nd Street. By the next year he was working with Bird. He was a natural drummer, self-taught, naturally right-handed, but set up the drums left-handed. He had used other drummers equipment on 52nd Street (there were almost always two bands alternating those clubs), and he never had a drum set of his own until he joined Stan Kenton. During this time, the bop players were playing tunes faster and faster until it became a "cutting contest" to see who could play faster. Stan Levey had the reputation of being able to play bebop faster than any drummer in town. Levey and Shelly knew each other from the Street and both had subbed for Davey Tough in the Herman band. In fact, Levey was in the Three Deuces the night Kenton had hired Shelly. Stan Levey could swing the Kenton band, the leader simply telling him, "Just do it!" And do it he did. The book was pretty much the same Shelly had played when Levey joined, but within a short time the writings of Bill Holman would make it a different band. Stan Levey lent his unique, swinging and dynamic style to make it a favorite of thousands of Kenton fans. But, on the 21st, Shelly recorded once again for Kenton, playing on three cuts.
At the end of February, Shelly did four sides with vocalist Kay Brown and the "Maynard Ferguson Orchestra." Soon he landed a studio job, playing on Bob Crosby's Club 15, a radio series with Gray's band. During the summer, the Lighthouse All-Stars did a couple of albums; a concert featuring Jimmy Giuffre's group (same band) was recorded and issued on Tampa Records. The official Lighthouse band was under the leadership of Rumsey, but the musicians were stretching out, recording under the name of whoever put the session together. Shelly recorded quite a bit with Gray's band, worked a June Christy session, and recorded two albums that used Hampton Hawes on piano — it was Wardell Gray's Sextet recorded live from the Haig in Los Angeles, He then played on another tenor player's session, a quartet led by Warne Marsh. Hawes was an outstanding player who had been playing with "name" jazz artists since his L.A. high school days. He would eventually play at the Lighthouse.
Shelly Manne was now a homeowner! Flip recalls that he was curious about everything and wanted to know how things were put together. "June [Christy] and Coop bought a house about the same time we did and the first time we went over there, Shelly inspected it from top to bottom. Home ownership was new to us all and a big deal." Shelly ended up on his back, looking up the fireplace chimney. He saw exposed wood up there — the Coopers had already had several chimney fires. Flip continues her comments about her curious husband — "He couldn't sit at a table for two minutes without finding out how this would sound if you hit it with that. I think some of the critics who wanted to put him down focused on his use of odd things to make noise, but it was just his fascination with sound." He was playing Tuesday through Sundays at the Lighthouse, making the nearly two hour drive from Northridge. "He would still be wound up from playing when he got home," recalls Flip.
More sessions that summer included Dan Terry's big band album, several Jerry Gray recordings, another June Christy session, and for Contemporary Records, one of the most famous of the Lighthouse sessions. This one included a tune called "Viva Zapata''. Marlon Brando had starred in the movie of the same name and was one of many of the Hollywood crowd that frequented the little bar near the ocean. (Rock Hudson had hung out there for a time.) Some of the film makers were starting to think about using jazz players for some film work. Pete Rugolo was already into writing for the film industry, but music contractors were afraid of using jazz musicians, even for background music. The jazz players' reputation of booze and drugs and not showing up for work was working against them. Not only that, but the studio musicians were a clique of classically trained "serious" musicians operating in a strong union that helped them keep the doors closed. Orchestrators, producers, and composers all had their favorite dependable staff musicians that were already on contract — they felt that they didn't need extra problems with "jazz musicians." That was about to change.
[Research for this feature includes Raymond Horricks, These Jazzmen of Our Time, Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks, Modern Jazz: A Survey of Developments Since 1939, Gene Lees, Woody Herman, Leader of the Band, Michael Sparke’s Stan Kenton: This is An Orchestra!, Dr. William Lee, Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm, Steven Harris, The Kenton Kronicles, Ted Gioia, West Coast Jazz: Jazz in California, 1945-1960, Burt Korall’s Drummin’ Men, Jack Brand and Bill Korst, Shelly Manne: Sounds of A Different Drummer, Georges Paczynski, Une Histoire De La Batterie De Jazz, a host of Down Beat, Metronome, Esquire and Modern Drummer magazines, websites such as Drummerworld and a bunch of liner notes to Shelly’s many LPs and CDs.]