West Coast Jazz – Its Own Sound

by Michael Ugulini
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It was, in the 50's and 60's…and still is, to those who choose to dig out old records or modern reissues on compact disc…the music of palm trees, sand, sun and surf.

It was, and is, West Coast Jazz, man - as cool and fresh as eating a ripe California orange under a beachside umbrella!

It was a sound that channeled the west coast lifestyle into an aural sculpture and was soothing to the ears of jazz aficionados who liked a change from the rush hour tempos and harder edged sounds of some of the east coast recordings of the day.

Names like Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, and Dave Brubeck were associated with West Coast jazz which was considered a branch of the Cool Jazz tree.

It was a branch that offered excellent arrangements and focused more on composition than free-for-all improvisation, although improvisation was certainly a strong component within the overall structure.

The major record labels recording and issuing this style of jazz were Pacific Jazz Records and Contemporary Records. Today, Pacific Jazz Records no longer exists, but its catalog is now under the control of Blue Note Records (EMI Group) which reissues these classic West Coast Jazz recordings. Contemporary Records became part of Fantasy Records which is now part of Concord Music Group and they also reissue the calm sounds of jazz from the land of the Pacific tides.

Live 365, an internet radio station devotes an entire station to this wonderful music – where you can hear Shelly Manne, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer, and Andre Previn, as well as the aforementioned artists listed above, pouring out the sweet music locked in their souls. The station is called Forever Cool (Live 365) and provides a steady stream of these wonderful sounds to those who want to kick back and experience the west coast feel from the comfort of their living room couch.

So, check out these songs, which flow as smooth and easy as a cold drink on a Pacific coast day.

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