The California jazz scene reached its zenith in the 50's and 60's and Richard Bock's Pacific Jazz label managed to capture most of the music from this "cool school". Artists such as Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper and Bud Shank all recorded for Pacific Jazz and they emerged as West Coast masters. Bill Perkins (tenor) and Jack Sheldon (trumpet/vocals) were two artists who enjoyed brief, but rewarding stints with the label. Perkins went on to pursue a career in sound engineering, while Sheldon is probably best known for his TV gig as Merv Griffins sidekick bandleader/funnyman.
West Coast Classics is a new series of limited edition reissues devoted to the Pacific Jazz catalog. The first six titles include works by Chet Baker, Cy Touff, Jack Montrose, Bud Shank and, of course, Perkins and Sheldon. Released in North America for the first time on CD, all Classic titles feature original artwork, previously unpublished photos and clean 20-bit remastering. Some of the titles include extra "bonus" tracks as well.
On Stage, Bill's debut recording as a leader, was taped at the Music Box Theatre in Los Angeles in 1956. The program includes a couple of standards, two Basie band classics and the gently swingin' Perkins original, Zing! Zang! Perkins is aided by the considerable talents of such West Coast stalwarts as Bud Shank (alto), Stu Williamson (trumpet), Russ Freeman (piano), Red Mitchell (bass) and Mel Lewis (drums). Perkins plays in a beautifully relaxed, tasteful manner that often recalls the "cool" sound of both Stan Getz and Lester Young.
The Sheldon CD is comprised of three different sessions he recorded during the mid-50's. Most of this rare material was originally issued on various 10" LP's and anthologies so it's great to have in all collected on one package. Over the course of the 19 tracks, a mix of show tunes, standards and originals, Sheldon is accompanied by the likes of Kenny Drew (piano), Walter Norris (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and the great Zoot Sims (tenor). On the early tracks, Sheldon's sound borrows heavily from his main West Coast rival Chet Baker, but the later tracks show that Jack did develop his own, distinctive voice.
For collectors of the genre, these are both "must have" CD's. Be sure to check out the other four titles in this first run of West Coast Classics and remember, they're all limited editions!(both titles)