Just Above Sunset
May 8, 2005 - Hermosa and Manhattan Beach

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Manhattan Beach Pier

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Hermosa Beach, Pier Avenue

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"Some good things happened while I was in California. I sat in with some of the musicians at the Lighthouse on a few occasions and they made a record out of that." - Miles Davis


Now it’s a blues/rock/punk club.


Downbeat -


Jazz players making their livings in the recording studios of Los Angeles picked up on the Cool Jazz movement in the 1950s. Largely influenced by the Miles Davis nonet, these L.A.-based players developed what's now known as West Coast Jazz.


Like Cool Jazz, West Coast Jazz was much more subdued than the frantic bebop that preceded it. Most West Coast Jazz was scored out in great detail, and it often sounded a bit European with its use of contrapuntal lines. However, the music left wide-open spaces for long, linear solo improvisations.


While West Coast Jazz was played mostly in recording studios, clubs like the Lighthouse on Hermosa Beach and the Haig in Los Angeles often presented top players of the genre, which included trumpeter Shorty Rogers, saxophonists Art Pepper and Bud Shank, drummer Shelly Manne and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre.


All About Jazz -


“West Coast Jazz” is one of those musical terms that causes controversy. Largely dismissed at the time by critics in New York, the musicians, arrangers, composers, producers and labels associated with West Coast Jazz have profoundly influenced the music we listen to today.


Start with Miles Davis’ The Birth of the Cool. Although released under Miles’ name, one could argue this is the work of Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and Gil Evans. Important because it shows the emphasis of writing and arranging in West Coast Jazz, it demonstrates another West Coast characteristic “ - the use of non-standard jazz instruments such as French horn and tuba.


… the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, which became sort of a ground zero for West Coast Jazz.


The television show Peter Gunn brought West Coast Jazz into the mainstream. Henry Mancini assembled some of the west coast’s best musicians to create the backdrop for this very cool detective. Some of these recordings include the piano player who succeeded Mancini as the top movie music writer, John Williams.


On Gerry Mulligan -


While a resident of New York he didn't confine himself to the life he found there. In the early 1950's a west coast jazz scene was piquing his interest and he went to explore. Jerry Jazz Musician spent many evenings at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, buying drinks for the likes of Chet Baker and Art Pepper. He would walk the strand along the moonlit Pacific, the sounds of "Round Midnight" and "Stella by Starlight" heard faintly on the beach through the club's open doorway...


A Night at the Hermosa Beach Light House 

By Dick Williams, Entertainment Editor Los Angeles Mirror, October 16, 1954


The French -


Jazz cool et funk survolté Le jazz West Coast est né dans un club d'Hermosa Beach, le célèbre Lighthouse, avant d'être exporté à New York par les Stan Getz, Miles Davis et Gil Evans. Dernière coqueluche locale : le new jack, variante de funk.

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.   Note: To see an actual-size high-resolution version of a particular photograph, click on the image.  You will see the full image in a separate window.  These were shot with a Nikon D70 – lens AF-5 Nikor 18-70mm 1:35-4.5G ED or AF Nikor 70-300mm telephoto.
Also see A Day at the Beach - 6 May 2005 - A drive down to where the editor once lived, Manhattan Beach, and then on to Hermosa Beach, and, on the way home, an encounter with a cherry 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, and a stop at the Western Museum of Flight, across the runway from Northrop Aircraft, where the editor worked when he first moved to California…  Fifty-One Photos


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
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