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West Coast jazz plays a vital part in the music scene and its influence is felt even today. From the soundtracks in movies that we watch to the tunes we hum, music today would not be the same had California not developed cool.
Gerry Mulligan: The Complete Pacific Jazz and Capitol Recordings of the Original Gerry Mulligan Quartet and Tentette (Mosaic MR5-102)
Shorty Rogers: Short Stops (RCA/Bluebird 5917) A reissue of two Shorty LP's.
Shorty Rogers: Portrait of Shorty (RCA Victor LPM-1561). The CD I have is a BMG reissue.
Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars: Volume 6 (Contemporary OJCCD-386-2)
Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars: Music for Lighthousekeeping (Contemporary OJCCD-636-2)
Shelly Manne and His Friends (Andre Previn and Leroy Vinnegar): My Fair Lady (OJCCD-336-2)
Lennie Niehaus: Volume 1 "The Quintets" (Contemporary OJCCD-1933-2)
Art Pepper: Plus 11 (Contemporary OJCCD-341-2) I like this one not only because of Pepper's playing, but the charts are by Marty Paich. Great arranger
Bud Shank and Bob Cooper: Mosaic Select MS-010. A compilation of lots of LP's. Bud Shank has constantly grown over the years. Plays better than ever now.
Look for anything by Bill Holman - great tenor player in the 50's. Now leads and writes for his own band. Like Shank, he just gets better. The charts that he wrote for the Kenton band in the 50's are classics. There is a Mosaic box set of Holman, Frank Rosilino, and Bob Cooper that is worth every penny.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.