Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

286

Lennie Niehaus Octet at the Lighthouse Cafe

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Lennie Niehaus Octet
The Lighthouse Café
Hermosa Beach, California
October 17, 2004

Sunday afternoons at the beach are always a pleasure. The Lighthouse Café, sponsor of the West Coast Cool branch of modern jazz for over 50 years, brought in eight of Southern California's finest for a recording session this sunny October afternoon. Howard Rumsey, as well, was on hand to enjoy the event. Woofy Productions plans to release the resulting "live" recording in the coming months. With the superb arranging of Lennie Niehaus, his fluid, bop-inspired alto saxophone soloing, and the torrid improvisation of his partners, the afternoon session brought many pleasant surprises.

Niehaus, whose big band arranging and alto saxophone talents graced the Stan Kenton Orchestra, has remained a Southern California stalwart, leading his own small groups for decades. His band and orchestra arrangements have bolstered the Monterey Jazz Festival. But his more public notoriety comes through an association with actor/director Clint Eastwood. Their joint projects, which include Bird , Tightrope , Unforgiven , The Bridges of Madison County and Space Cowboys , leave a lasting impression on movie audiences, as well as on jazz enthusiasts.

The session began with "Nobody Else But Me." Leader Niehaus took the reins and delivered a stirring alto introduction for the afternoon session. His feature contained hot, bop-driven statements, as well as cool, swinging melodies. A fluid performer with a brilliant tone, Niehaus set the desired pattern for his octet to follow. On trumpet, Ron Stout unleashed a polished improvised solo that emphasized his gentle demeanor. Tenor saxophonist Tom Peterson followed with a laid back chorus that highlighted his silky tone. Trombonist Bob McChesney contributed a buttery improvisation that was followed by Jack Nimitz's dynamic baritone saxophone solo. After bassist Trey Henry and drummer Dick Weller traded fours, the ensemble was back to its alto saxophone-led romp. Smooth corners and a boppish attitude gave the octet's opening piece a creative coloring.

Jobim's "Dindi" followed, with the octet supporting Niehaus in a fast-moving Latin jazz idiom. Pianist Bob Florence started the piece and provided several exciting solos.

The afternoon's performance included much more. "Alone Together," "In Your Own Sweet Way," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "If I Should Lose You" and "There Will Never Be Another You" provided more opportunities for the audience to consume Niehaus' positive manner. An original composition, written expressly for the octet, "Rush Hour" featured ballad soloing by trumpet and alto saxophone. The afternoon's session was a memorable performance by an alto saxophonist in his prime. His all-star octet of Southern California veterans gives Lennie Niehaus the best of both worlds: stellar band arrangements and a superb group of artists to interpret them.

Related Site
Visit Woofy Productions , an independent label specializing in live recordings of West Coast jazz artists.

Photo: The historic Lighthouse Cafe circa 1950.


Shop

More Articles

Read Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center Live Reviews Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center
by David Becker
Published: January 24, 2017
Read ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017 Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House Live Reviews An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2017
Read Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina Live Reviews Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 10, 2017
Read Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016 Live Reviews Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "The Fairfield Four in Little Rock" Live Reviews The Fairfield Four in Little Rock
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 19, 2016
Read "Midge Ure at Revolution Music Hall" Live Reviews Midge Ure at Revolution Music Hall
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Flow Tribe at the Gramercy Theatre" Live Reviews Flow Tribe at the Gramercy Theatre
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!