The best from the Lighthouse
Matthew Watters | Vietnam | 04/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for a place to start exploring the studio recordings of the Lighthouse All-Stars, this is it. By the time, they went on to record Volume 6 in 1955 (the one with the great William Claxton cover photo of the band playing on the beach) or Music for Lighthousekeeping in 1956, the All-Stars had already evolved from being a shifting workshop of musicians and arrangers to a fairly fixed "house band" -- a quality house band, to be sure, but still one that had settled into playing fairly safe and representative "West Coast" jazz of the time. This album, on the other hand, captures the All-Stars in more adventuresome fettle as they were still establishining a reputation back in 1952-53. The CD recreates one of those LPs which are really a discographical Frankenstein's monster, an earlier 10-inch with some later tracks tacked onto the A and B sides to make it a 12-incher. The result, however, gives you a broad sampling of the All-Stars. First, you get the front-line of Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre and Milt Bernhart with drummer Shelly Manne playing terrifically creative arrangements by Rogers and Giuffre, who would go on to form Roger's Giants. Then, you get a front line focused on Bud Shank and Bob Cooper, with drummer Max Roach. Shank really shines. Finally, you get the Conte Condoli-Bob Cooper-Frank Rosolino front line, with Stan Levey at the drum kit, and this is pretty much the permanent All-Stars thereafter. Their tracks here, like the mini-suite "Mexican Passport", are actually quite stellar, the best they would ever do, in my opinion. So, begin and end your Lighthouse explorations here."