Monday, August 31, 2009

A Foggy Night at the Hermosa Beach Lighthouse

Een mistige avond in de Hermosa Beach Lighthouse ( Nederlands) A Foggy Night at the Hermosa Beach Lighthouse ( English)

(An almost complete) HOWARD RUMSEY's LIGHTHOUSE ALL-STARS Discography
Hans Koert

Howard Rumsey.... in the spotlight.
Hans Koert

The kind of life I have is so much greater than the average person’s – I’m close to a creative thing that’s exciting and beautiful to behold.
You get the feeling that if the whole world could experience it, there’d be a lot less trouble. I guess that’s why, after 30 years, I’m still so hung up on it ( Howard Rumsey ( in an 1979 interview with Leonard Feathers ( The Passion of Jazz Aides & Abettors) p. 167))

The Lighthouse Café - Hermosa Beach ( mid 1950s)

In the 1979 interview Howard Rumsey looks back to his 30th anniversary in the night club business. From 1949 up to 1972 he was the manager of the famous Lighthouse café in Hermosa Beach (California) and from 1972 up to 1979 he exploited the Concerts by the Sea, a club, in fact a mini-theater, on the pier in Rodondo Beach, California. Most of us will remember Howard Rumsey from the period that he was the director of his Lighthouse All-Stars and the leading source of inspiration for the west coast jazz scene during the 1950s and 1960s. I wrote about that in a previous blog titled Lighthouse All-Stars

Howard Rumsey (1964)
A few weeks ago I found at a second hand book market a pile of jazz LP’s and although it contained a lot of records, you could easily label as "rubbish", I found a 25 cm Contemporary LP titled Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars Vol. 5 In The Solo Spotlight ( Contemporary C2515 ). Both the cover as the record were in excellent condition, so …………. It made my day.The record contained six tracks, all with typical titles: Howard, Claude, Bud, Coop, S & B and Stan; a great challenge to find out what the meaning is for these rather weird titles. Well, I guess, most of you will understand how these titles were born, if you learn that the musicians of this all-star group were: Howard Rumsey, leader and bass player, Bud Shank, alto saxophone; Bob Cooper tenor saxophone; Stan Levey drums; Claude Williamson piano; Stu Williamson trumpet and Bob Enevoldsen valve trombone. Mind that the subtitle is In The Solo Spotlight, so I hope the penny has dropped. Thanks to the liner notes by Dick Williams, entertainment editor of the Los Angeles Mirror we know a bit more about the period this recording session was made: August 1954. Some 400 people were turned away at a little beachfront jazz bistro in Hermosa Beach called “The Lighthouse” last Saturday night. Several hundred others, who arrived early, managed to sandwich themselves inside. …… And lately, the nightly fog along the coast has been as thick as spider webs in a haunted house. What’s the lure? Last night I found out when I wandered down through the mists to the foot of the Hermosa pier. The Lighthouse is the home of an exceptional jazz group known as Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars. In the last six years they have built the place into the top citadel of jazz on the south coast. ( Dick Williams – liner notes)

One For Buck: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars in the Frankly Jazz TV-program ( early 1960s)

In the Leonard Feather interview Howard explains how it all started. Tiring of travelling ( Howard Rumsey toured a decade with Vido Musso and Stan Kenton ), I decided to settle in Southern California.

Howard Rumsey Lighthouse All-Stars: f.l.t.r.: Frank Rosolino - Stan Levey - Bob Cooper - Howard Rumsey - Victor Feldman. (ca. 1959)

One night he visited Hermosa Beach: I had some memories of the beach area, because they had always had ballrooms there before the war, and I had played at a dime-a-dance place there. But the ballrooms had disappeared and there was only one old resort with a Polynesian decor, with merchant seamen eating and drinking, known as The Lighthouse. No music at all, but at least it had a bandstand. The owner was John Levine and Howard suggested to organise some Sunday jam sessions. Kid, are you gonna try to tell me what to do with this place? Everybody else has. I talked some more, Howard continued, and finally he said Okay, let’s try it out. The next Sunday I put together a fine combo, opened the front door – there was no p.a. system, but we kept the music loud enough to roar out into the street – and within an hour Levine had more people in the room than he’d seen in a month. That was Sunday afternoon, May 29, 1949. ( Howard Rumsey in Leonard Feather’s interview (1979))

The Lighthouse café (mid 1950s)
The earliest live recordings in the Lighthouse were in January 1952 with musicians like Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre; the first Lighthouse All-Stars recordings are dated half a year later.
I learned that in the discographies I have, the Lighthouse All-Stars recordings contained a lot of dubious information, even for my 25 cm LP, so I went through the points once again in a small discography below this blog.

Bossa Nova: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars in the Frankly Jazz TV-program ( early 1960s)
It took us two years to turn the club around from merchant seamen’s hangout to a jazz-conductive atmosphere. In the interview Howard tells about the guest musicians who played in the club, like Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey, Wes Montgomery, The Three Sounds ( Gene Harris - Andrew Simpkins - Bill Dowdy ), Mose Allison, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker, who came in with a saxophone in a terrible condition. After an hour of frustration he went outside down the alley and heard someone playing a tenor sax in another club. Charlie asked if he could use the tenor and when the cat said yes, Charlie jumped on the stand and we all left the Lighthouse and listened to him while he blew for two fantastic hours. ( Howard Rumsey in Leonard Feather’s interview (1979)
After John Levine passed away in 1970, Howard helped Levine’s son for a few years in the Lighthouse, but in fact, the club was too small for concerts with big bands. I still dreamed about an ideal club. He found another venue, which he opened in 1972 and named it Concerts by the Sea.

Howard Rumsey looked back to his 30th anniversary in the night club business. The most important thing I’ve learned is that the management or the owner must avoid, at all costs, interfering with the music. If you leave the artists alone to do their own thing, the sounds can come alive and express their natural strength, but if someone comes between the music and the audience, it withers and dies like a fragile flower.

Howard Rumsey celebrated his 90th birthday in Catalina’s Bar and Grill in Hollywood, October 2007.
Hans Koert

(An almost complete)
Hans Koert

1953: Lighthouse All-Stars feat. Jimmy Giuffre ( SK-538) (rec. Jun. 1952)
1953: Sunday Jazz a la Lighthouse ( C-2501)
1953: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars ( C-2506)
1954: Howard Rumsey's Light-House All-Stars: volume 1: The Quintet ( C-2513)
1954: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: volume 2: The Octet / In the solo Spotlight( C-2515) (rec. Aug 1954)
1955: Sunday Jazz a la Lighthouse (C-3501)
1955: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: volume 2 (C-3504) (rec. Feb. 1953)
(Dec. 1954)(Feb. 1955)(Mar 1955)
1956: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: volume 3 (C-3508) (rec Jul. 1952)(rec. Oct. 1953)(Aug 1956)
1956: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars volume 4 ( C-2510) (rec. May 1953)(rec. Feb. 1954)(Sep 1956)
1956: Lighthouse at Laguna ( C-3509) (rec. Jun 1955)
1956: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: volume 5 In the Solo spotlight ( C-3517) ( reisue C-2515?)
1956: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: volume 4: Oboe/Flute ( C-3520)(rec. Feb. 1954)(Sep 1956)
1957/1959: Music for Lighthousekeeping ( C-3528)(mono) ( S-7528)(stereo) (rec. Oct. 1956)
1989: Jazz Invention: Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars ( C14051) (rec. Feb. 1989)
1957/1959: Double or Nothing ( LRP-3045)(mono) / LST-7014 (stereo)(rec. Feb. 1957)

19**: Modern Jazz at the Lighthouse ( LAJI-001 (CD) ( rec. Mar-Jun 1953)(1957)(1958)
1958: Jazz Rolls-Royce ( LP-300)
1958: Sunday Jazz a la Lighthouse ( LP-301) ( reissues)
1960: Jazz Rolls-Royce ( OML-5)(mono) (OSL-5) (stereo)
1961: Jazz Structures (PHM-200- 012 (mono)(PHS-600-012 (stereo) (1961)
ORIGINAL JAZZ CLASSICS reissues have not been listed.
19**: Early Days / volume 1 (NLP 5001) (rec. Jan. 1952)
19**: West Coast Piano Touch (NLP 5011 (rec. Aug. 1952)
19**: Pianoman (NLP 5004) (rec. Aug. 1952)
19**: Stan Getz: The Lighthouse Sessions ( NLP 5003)( rec. May 1953)
19**: Live at theLighthouse ( NLP 5004) ( rec. Sep 1956)

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Anonymous Tom said...

Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars made some great music. Most of the recordings they released are worth owning. Very enjoyable west coast jazz.
(Blindman blues forum)

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Blue Trane said...

Jazz Wax recently featured an enjoyable interview with Rumsey, now age 91. My favorite Rumsey-led performance is Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse AllStars: Music For Lighthousekeeping featuring Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Sonny Clark, Stan Levey, Bob Cooper and Howard Rumsey. It includes a lively version of Taxi War Dance.

Blue Trane
(Blindman Blues forum)

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love finding this blog. My father played (piano) at the Lighthouse for years. It's a great place.

10:51 PM  
Blogger kuhander said...

Great blog. Really enjoyed listening to Howard Rumsey and the Lighthouse All Stars.
Did he record anything after 1960?

10:23 PM  

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