YES, selections from YESYEARS, ClassiC. Authentic GUITAR TAB EDITION complete solos TABLATURE

YES, selections from YESYEARS, ClassiC. TABLATURE


1983- Hold on -  Parole e musica di Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson - dall'album Big Generator

1971 - I've seen all good people A. your move - Parole e musica Jon Anderson - dall'album The Yes Album

1971 - I've seen all good people B. All good people - Parole e musica Chris Squire - dall'album The Yes Album

1972 - Long distance runaround  - Jon Anderson - all'album Fragile

1990 - Money - Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Alan White, Rick Wakeman - Previously Unreleased - dall'album Yesyears

1990 - Montreux's theme - Parole e musica di Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Alan White - Previously Unreleased - dall'album Yesyears

1983 - Owner of a lonely heart - Parole e musica di Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn - dall'album 90125

1972 - Roundabout - Jon Anderson Steve Howe - dall'album Fragile

1981 - Tempus fugit - Parole e musica di Geoff Downes, Trevor Horn, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White - dall'album Drama


arranged by Kenn Chipkin
except Tempus Fugit, arranged by Alex Houten

Prezzo: €89,99




Creatures of Habit - parole e musica di David Pirner

I Will Still Be Laughing - parole e musica di David Pirner

Close - parole e musica di David Pirner

See You Later - parole e musica di David Pirner

No Time for Waiting - parole e musica di David Pirner

Blood into Wine - parole e musica di Dan Murphy and Elizabeth Herman

Lies of Hate - parole e musica di David Pirner e Sterling Campbell

Draggin' the Lake - parole e musica di David Pirner

New York Blackout - parole e musica di David Pirner

The Game - parole e musica di David Pirner

Cradle Chain - parole e musica di David Pirner

Prezzo: €39,99



Dance of the Rainbow Serpent, Volume 1: Heart
Carlos Santana

CATEGORY: Guitar Personality
VERSION: Authentic Guitar TAB

Dance of the Rainbow Serpent is a three-volume journey through three decades of the music of Carlos Santana. It includes full-color photo sections, music transcribed in standard notation and tab, and complete solos. Volume 1 features:

Includes the Following Selections:
Title Composer














Prezzo: €42,99



ALL I EVER WANTED - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana, Chris Solberg, and Alex Ligertwood - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1981

BRIGHTEST STAR - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana and Alex Ligertwood - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1981

CHILL OUT (THINGS GONNA CHANGE) - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana, Chester Thompson, and John Lee Hooker - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1995

EVERY NOW AND THEN - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Vernon Reid - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1995

HANNIBAL - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana, Alex Ligertwood, Alan Pasqua, and Raul Rekow - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1987

THE HEALER - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana, Chester Thompson, Roy Rogers, and John Lee Hooker - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1989

MUDBONE - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1983

SE ENI A FE L'AMO-KERE KERE` - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Babatunde Olatunji - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1996

SWEET BLACK CHERRY PIE - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana, Chester Thompson, and Alex Ligertwood - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1995

THIS IS THIS - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Josef Zawinul - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1986

WINGS OF GRACE - Performed by: Santana - Composed by: Carlos Santana and Chester Thompson - From: Album "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" - ©1993

Prezzo: €69,99









This book features the following songs:

Almost Hear You Sigh
Blinded By Love
Break the Spell
Can't Be Seen
Continental Drift
Hearts for Sale
Hold On To Your Hat
Mixed Emotions
Rock and a Hard Place
Sad Sad Sad
Slipping Away

Prezzo: €69,99

MOUNTAIN THE BEST Guitar Recorded Version TABLATURE LIBRO SPARTITI-Theme for an Imaginary Western




The Best of Mountain
Series: Guitar Recorded Version
Format: Softcover - TAB
Artist: Mountain

Notes & tab for the best blues-rock licks from Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi on 11 Mountain masterpieces. Includes: The Animal Trainer and the Toad - Boys in the Band - Crossroader - Don't Look Around - For Yasgur's Farm - King's Chorale - Mississippi Queen - Nantucket Sleighride - Never in My Life - Taunta - Theme for an Imaginary Western.

Inventory #HL 00694958
ISBN: 9780793537075
UPC: 073999949582
Width: 9.0"
Length: 12.0"
72 pages

Song List::

The Animal Trainer And The Toad
Boys In The Band
Don't Look Around
For Yasgur's Farm
King's Chorale
Mississippi Queen
Nantucket Sleighride
Never In My Life
Theme For An Imaginary Western

Prezzo: €27,99






Album uscito nel 1986.


Billy Idol — vocals, guitar, bass

Steve Stevens — guitar, bass, keyboards, programming

Marcus Miller — bass

John Regan — bass

Phillip Ashley — keyboards

Harold Faltermeyer — keyboards

David Frank — keyboards

Richard Tee — keyboards

Thommy Price - drums, percussion

Jocelyn Brown — vocals (background)

Connie Harvey — vocals (background)

Janet Wright - vocals (background)



World's Forgotten Boy
To Be a Lover
Soul Standing By
Sweet Sixteen
Man for All Seasons
Don't Need a Gun
Beyond Belief
Fatal Charm (Featured in the film "A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master"
All Summer Single
One Night, One Chance

Prezzo: €49,99






E' Ford in persona che parla e con la sua chitarra ci fa ascoltare le sue note. Contiene:

PART I: -rhunba blues transcription -chord usage -scale usage -trasposing scale -comparing the three scales -focusing on the D7 (V) chord -comping examples.

PART II: -reveletion transcription -chord for revelation -the B7 -change -the bridge -the chorus -tying it all together.

PART III: -diminisched scale usage.

PART IV -I ain't got nothing' but the blues lead sheet -chord voicing -the D altered scale -the G harmonic and melodic minor scale -the bridge.

PART V: -miles groove transcription -the changes -final version. 

CATEGORY: Guitar Method or Supplement

This book begins with basic blues concepts such as the pentatonic, mixolydian and blues scales and builds on them, progressively incorporating more sophisticated scales and chord voicings. With lots of transcriptions and music examples, the book moves from basic 12-bar blues through gospel, jazz and modal feels.

Prezzo: €32,99






CATEGORY: Guitar Personality
VERSION: Authentic Guitar TAB

This album-matching folio features all 15 songs as performed for the live MTV reunion concert. Songs include: Get Over It * Tequila Sunrise * Hotel California * I Can't Tell You Why * Take It Easy * Life in the Fast Lane * Desperado and more.

Includes the Following Selections:
Title Composer















Prezzo: €31,99

EAGLES, COMPLETE VOLUME 1 & 2. Authentic Guitar TABLATURE heartache tonight-I can't tell you why






EAGLES, COMPLETE VOLUME 1. Authentic Guitar TAB edition includes complete solos TABLATURE

Authentic Guitar TAB

Tutte le canzoni degli album "Eagles", "Desperado" e "On the border".392 pagine.

Contiene: dall'album

-take it easy
-witchy woman
-chung all night
-most of us are sad
-train leaves here this morning
-take the devil
-peaceful easy feeling


-twenty one
-out of the control
-tequila sunrise
-certain kind of fool
-outlaw man
-saturday night
-bitter creek
-Doolin Dalton/ desperado.

-already gone
-you never cry like a lover
-midnight flyer
-my man
-on the border
-James Dean
-OL' 55
-is it true?
-good day in hell
-best of my love. 



EAGLES, COMPLETE VOLUME 2. Authentic Guitar TAB edition includes complete solos TABLATURE




Tutti i titoli degli album: "One of these nights", "Hotel California", "The long run", e tre canzoni da "Eagles live". 352 pagine di musica, contiene:

-one of these nights
-too many hands
-I wish you peace
-Hollywood waltz
-journey of the sourcerer
-lyin' eyes
-after the thrill is gone
-take it to the limit 

"Hotel California":
-hotel California
-new kid in town
-life in the fast lane
-wasted time
-victim of love
-pretty maids all in a row
-try and love again
-the last resort.

-I can't tell you why
-in the city
-the disco strangler
-king of hollywood
-heartache tonight
-those shoes
-teenage jail
-the greeks don't want no freaks
-the sad cafe.

-seven bridges road
-life's been good
-all night long. 


Apocalypse Now! (We Love It!)
There is no culture here in California, only trash. The West
Coast has no tradition, no dignity, no ethics – this is where
that monster Richard Nixon grew up. One must work with
the trash, pit it against itself . . .
Philip K. Dick, in a letter to Stanislaw Lem, September 1973
And if California slides into the ocean,
As the mystics and statistics say it will,
I predict this motel will be standing
Until I’ve paid my bill . . .
Warren Zevon, ‘Desperadoes Under the Eaves’, 1976
When Randy Newman proclaimed ‘I love LA!’ back in 1983, he was
doing no more than a thousand LA ‘boosters’ have done over the
course of this century: he was celebrating the mindless golden wonder
of Southern California. Yet, Newman being Newman, he couldn’t
resist sticking ‘I Love LA’ on an album called Trouble in Paradise. And
Newman being Newman, he couldn’t conceal the tongue planted firmly
in his cheek.
‘I Love LA’ is still an oddly exhilarating record, its power undiminished
by what has happened in Los Angeles in the subsequent fifteen years. I
remember watching the video on M TV when I was living in the city
at the time of its release and revelling in the way its boosterist message was
so brilliantly undermined by Newman’s music. All the love-hate I came to
feel for the place was embodied in lines such as: ‘Everybody’s very happy,
coz the sun is shining all the time/Looks like another perfect day . . . I love
xvi Waiting for the Sun
LA!’ As one of many thousands of Englishmen in temporary Californian
exile, I was only too alert to the ironies of the troubled paradise, and
relished the thrilled ambivalence that Newman’s song conveyed.
Ten years earlier, another Englishman had come to LA – come to
make a BBC documentary and do his boosterist bit for the city. The
result was Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles (1972), a film based on the
bushy-bearded professor’s classic study of Southern Californian buildings,
Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (Penguin, 1971). Banham’s
boosterism may look a little glib and outdated today, but basically he
was doing what Newman was doing, which was celebrating the reviled.
Furthermore, his attraction to Los Angeles paralleled my own and that
of countless Europeans who, on the run from the old world, had ended
up in the city.
‘I have to admit that I do miss the casual kerbside encounters with
friends and strangers to which I am accustomed in other cities,’ Banham
had written in Los Angeles. ‘But I am happy to be relieved of the
frustrations and dangers of the congested pedestrian traffic of Oxford
Street.’ For Banham, as for Brits from Isherwood to Idol, LA (and
Southern California in general) seemed to represent an escape from the
rain-sodden, class-ridden claustrophobia of old Europe. The very dryness
of the semi-desert air was like a release from England’s fetid dampness.
Twenty years on, it is less easy to love LA as the place everyone is
supposed to loathe. For starters we’ve all, at one time or another, ‘loved’
LA as the plastic paradise where the American Dream has most obviously
run riot: there’s nothing terribly radical about a Banham-esque pro-Bad
Taste stand on the issue, however much our yoof TV presenters would
like to think otherwise. Indeed, we Brits have done more than anyone to
overdetermine the cultural meaning of Los Angeles – ‘the most mediated
town in America’, as Michael Sorkin has said – recycling its hackneyed
mythologies to the vanishing point of pure redundancy.
Secondly, the riots, scandals and natural disasters of the nineties have
made it impossible to shut Los Angeles reality out of the ‘hyper-real’
Hollywood LA in our minds, try as we might to turn these spectacles
into the quasi-apocalyptic climax to some epic movie. Los Angeles
may sometimes resemble a cyberpunk summer blockbuster starring Ice
Cube and Arnie Schwarzenegger, but that don’t mean doodley-squat in
None the less, I still love LA enough to want to write about it –
Prologue: Apocalypse Now! (We Love It!) xvii
specifically about the history of Los Angeles as a music town, and what
that music tells us of the phenomenon of the place itself. This book has
been germinating in me ever since I lived in the city ten years ago, a
period when a debilitating struggle with drug abuse was periodically
punctuated by interviews with LA entertainers as different as Donna
Summer and Black Flag. The seductive sickness of the place began to
fascinate me at that time, and has never left me. Indeed, what Mike Davis
has characterized as a sunshine/noir dialectic could have been summed
up by the gulf between Donna Summer and Black Flag. Yet even that
would have been too simplistic, as one listen to Donna Summer’s ‘Sunset
People’ reveals.
What I’m really attempting in Waiting for the Sun is a study of the
peculiarly Californian interplay between light and darkness, or good and
evil. If the history of the LA music scene can be traced partway along a
line that stretches from Doris Day to Charles Manson via Day’s son Terry
Melcher and his sometime-surfer pals the Beach Boys, then the book’s
aim is to explore the reasons why such an unlikely chain of relationships
should unfold there. It will become clear as the narrative progresses that
my own LA heroes are the ones whose music most obviously combines
the light with the dark: the Brian Wilsons and Phil Spectors and Arthur
Lees of the world. The fact that I’ve borrowed both my title and my
subtitle from the Doors should not be construed to mean that I rate Jim
Morrison alongside such figures. But then old Jimbo did have a certain
way with words: ‘The west is the best/Get here and we’ll do the rest . . .’
Perhaps the question now is: If Los Angeles the apocalyptic dystopia is
as much a mythological site as the edenic LA utopia of old – thanks to
Nathanael West, Kenneth Anger, Joan Didion, James Ellroy and Niggaz
With Attitude – what do we still hope to find there? Or are we all just
queueing up for more violence and insanity?
Among the people who’ve pondered these questions with me – and
shared their version of the LA story – I am especially indebted to the
following: Lou Adler, David Anderle, Peter Asher, Eve Babitz, Richard
Berry, Rodney Bingenheimer, Dan Bourgoise, Jackson Browne, Denny
Bruce, Peter Case, Ed Cobb, Buddy Collette, Stan Cornyn, Jim Dawson,
Pamela Des Barres, Henry Diltz, Doctor Demento (Barry Hansen), Todd
Everett, Donald Fagen, Perry Farrell, Art Fein, Kim Fowley, Pleasant
Gehman, Rich Gershon, Jeff Gold, Carl Gottlieb, William Gibson, Sid
Griffin, Matt Groening, Rick Harper, Richie Hayward, Bones Howe,
xviii Waiting for the Sun
Danny Hutton, Rickie Lee Jones, Bob Keane, Nick Kent, Martin Kibbee,
Harvey Kubernik, Arthur Lee, Darlene Love, Michael McDonald, Maria
McKee, Cyril Maitland, Joni Mitchell, Paul Moshay, Walter Mosley,
Randy Newman, Gene Norman, Michael Ochs, Van Dyke Parks, Freddie
Patterson, Bill Payne, John Platt, Iggy Pop, Kid Congo Powers, Cheryl
Rixon-Davis, Elliot Roberts, Henry Rollins, Linda Ronstadt, Metal Mike
Saunders, Greg Shaw, Kirk Silsbee, Pat Smear, Terry Southern, Ronnie
Spector, Penelope Spheeris, Gary Stewart, Mike Stoller, Ron Stone,
Donna Summer, Derek Taylor, Russ Titelman, Gregg Turner, Nik
Venet, Tom Waits, Paul Wasserman, Bill Wasserzieher, Jimmy Webb,
Ian Whitcomb and Bobby Womack.
On the pictorial front, a major debt of gratitude is owed to Michael
Ochs, Helen Ashford, Jonathan Hymes and Robbi Seagal at the Michael
Ochs Archives; and to Harvey Kubernik, who undertook the heroic
labour of gathering the photographs. In addition, I should like to thank
the following for helping me in numerous different ways during my
research: Barry Adamson, Robert Asher, Frank Beeson, Harold Bronson,
Roy Carr, Barbara Charone, Alan Clayson, Anton Corbijn, John Crace
and Jill Coleman, Chris and Steve Darrow, Paul Du Noyer, Mark Ellen,
Pete Frame, Mick Houghton, Mike Howard, Lindsay Hutton, Jim Irvin,
Rayner Jesson, Laura Lamson, Andrew Lauder, Muir Mackean, Lee Ellen
Newman, Philip Norman, Andy Preverser, Tom Reed, Sally Reeves,
Johnny Rogan, Jon Savage, Steve Sheperd, Mat Snow, the late Derek
Taylor, John Tobler and Rod Tootell. For other favours past and present,
thanks to Richard Gehr, Annene Kaye, Jim Sclavunos and Davitt Sigerson.
Thanks to Jonathan Riley, who green-lighted the book before leaving
Viking; to Tony Lacey, who shepherded it through the final stages; to
Richard Duguid; and of course to my agent, Tony Peake. At Bloomsbury,
thanks to Matthew Hamilton, David Reynolds and Mike Jones.
A particular debt of thanks is owed to Avik and Elaine Gilboa, for their
endless patience and message-taking during my stay in Hollywood. As for
the support of my wife, Victoria, words are quite inadequate to convey
the depth of my gratitude to her.
Grateful acknowledgement is given to the following for permission to
reproduce lyrics:
‘Desperadoes under the Eaves’ by Warren Zevon. Copyright 1996
Warner-Tamerlane, Dark Room Music. Warner/Chappell Music Ltd,
London W1. Reproduced by permission of International Music Publications
Grateful acknowledgement is given to the following for permission to
reproduce photographs:
The Michael Ochs Archives, Kirk Silsbee, Derek Taylor, Cyril Maitland,
Jenny Lens, Ed Colver and Ken Sharp.
xi Waiting for the Sun


After the Goldrush, or Los Angeles
Without a Star Map
Millions of ugly white people. Under an ugly white sky.
White sand, white sky, white folks.
Richard Meltzer on Newport Beach, 1980
Los Angeles never actually had a gold rush, but you might be forgiven
for thinking that gold alone could have brought people to Southern
California in such droves after 1880. In fact, it was a combination of
oil, railroads, sunshine, real estate and bogus folklore that lured millions
of middle Americans to the shimmering edge of the Pacific Ocean –
a folklore concocted by boosters and entrepreneurs whose commercial
interests should have been only too clear to everyone.
The selling of Southern California to the world as a paradise of
blue skies and orange groves was achieved partly through the crudest
rewriting of history. A quaint mythology of noble Mission priests and
docile Indians – epitomized by Helen Hunt Jackson’s hugely popular
novel Ramona (1884) – subtly obscured what had been the almost
total eradication of native Americans in the area, as well as the brutal
treatment of indigenous Mexicans. Underlying the cult of the Missions,
moreover – and even the cult of sunshine itself – was an implicitly racist
programme of white supremacy. Charles Fletcher Lummis, editor of the
magazine Out West (Land of Sunshine), believed that the power of sunshine
would ‘reinvigorate the racial energies of the Anglo-Saxons’, while Abbot
Kinney, who built the Californian version of Venice just south of Santa
Monica, crusaded simultaneously for Mission Indians and for racial purity
through eugenics. Topping both men was Joseph Widney, the University
2 Waiting for the Sun
of Southern California president who argued in The Race Life of the Aryan
Peoples (1907) that Los Angeles would one day be ‘the Aryan capital of
the world’. (If only he could have seen the city in 1997.)
All of this makes perfect California u¨ber alles sense in a land promoted
– in Mike Davis’ words – as ‘a sunny refuge of White Protestant America
in an age of labour upheaval and the mass immigration of the Catholic
and Jewish poor from Eastern and Southern Europe’. It is also what lies
behind the cult of golden-skinned surfers that produced the Beach Boys
and a hundred other surf bands in the early sixties. Indeed, the whole
phenomenon of Los Angeles pop is predicated on a certain WASPy
whiteness, from ‘cool’ West Coast jazz to the Beach Boys, the Byrds
and the Eagles.
‘California is a queer place,’ wrote D. H. Lawrence. ‘In a way, it has
turned its back on the world and looks into the void Pacific.’ For the
Midwestern Protestants who poured into the LA flatlands in the twenties,
the town meant a new beginning, a break with the old world of the
East Coast and Europe. Tycoon Henry Huntington called the Pacific
‘the ocean of the future’, and the future looked good to the hordes of
Iowans and Nebraskans who came to prosper among the palm trees.
It even looked good to some of the exiled European intellectuals who
settled in the city in the thirties and forties. As it was to be for Reyner
Banham thirty years later, Los Angeles for Aldous Huxley and Christopher
Isherwood was a place of release and freedom, a place where one could
shake off one’s European identity. Even Thomas Mann, who thought
Hollywood shared something of the sickness of his Magic Mountain, found
in Santa Monica what he’d ‘always wanted’: ‘The light; the dry, always
refreshing warmth; the spaciousness, the ocean . . .’
The trouble was that the ‘boostering’ of Los Angeles was too successful
by half: by the thirties, the influx of migrants was relentless. Now
everyone wanted a chunk of the Californian dream, including those
Depression-crazed Okies immortalized in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
The resulting maladjustment – divorce, suicide, mob violence – testified
to the sense of betrayal experienced by those who’d uprooted themselves
only to find the same poverty awaiting them.
This was the dark flipside to the picture-postcard fantasy of California,
one which gave rise not only to the noir LA of Raymond Chandler and
James M. Cain but also to the apocalyptic ruminations of numerous
non-crime writers. ‘California will be a silent desert again,’ wrote
Intro: After the Goldrush, or Los Angeles Without a Star Map 3
J. B. Priestley. ‘It is all as impermanent and brittle as a reel of film.’
Hanns Eisler declared that ‘if one stopped the flow of water here for
three days the jackals would reappear’, while his collaborator Bertolt
Brecht wrote of ‘luxuriant gardens/with flowers as big as trees, which of
course wither/Unhesitantly if not nourished with very expensive water’.
‘God never meant man to live here,’ thundered Thornton Wilder like
some hellfire preacher. ‘Man has come and invaded a desert, and he has
tortured this desert into giving up sustenance and growth to him, and he
has defeated and perverted the purpose of God.’
This apocalyptic mindset – reinforced by earthquakes, brush fires,
mudslides and howling Santa Ana winds – finds its apogee in Nathanael
West’s celebrated Day of the Locust (1939), in which ‘the never-ending,
enervating sunshine wasn’t enough’ for the ‘masqueraders’ who’d reached
the promised land. Like many writers forced to make a living in the
Hollywood studio system, West harboured a deep desire to destroy LA,
and had Tod Hackett, his studio artist hero, paint an apocalyptic scene
entitled ‘The Burning of Los Angeles’. When, at the end of the novel,
a hysterical flatland rabble rampages through the streets of Hollywood, it
is as though Hackett’s painting has come to life. The crowd is made up
of the bitter and the betrayed – the hordes for whom the glimpse of a
movie star gliding into a premiere can’t compensate for the fact that the
city has cheated them.
As they were in West’s novel, the movies were for all these writers a
key element in the apocalyptic scenario. The fact that Hollywood, while
concealing under its glittering surface all manner of sins and perversions,
pumped out the heartwarming fictions by which Middle America lived,
made it irresistible as a place of disjuncture. Despite pleadings such as
those of M GM studio chief Dore Schary, who insisted that ‘the entire
working personnel’ of the dream factory should not be condemned on
the basis of a handful of degenerates, Hollywood was always destined to
serve as Sodom and Gomorrah for prurient Middle America, which had
as little use for a ‘clean-living’ Tinseltown as Kenneth Anger had when
he came to write his classic Hollywood Babylon. The birth of the scandal
industry in the early 1950s made it impossible for Hollywood to pretend
any longer that it wasn’t hopelessly immoral. ‘This is what comes of taking
vulgarians from the gutter and making idols of them,’ the boyfriend of
Fatty Arbuckle’s victim is quoted as saying in Hollywood Babylon, and
it’s a judgement which could be said to sum up the whole history of
4 Waiting for the Sun
Hollywood as Babylon, a place where the disease of fame destroys all
but the noblest of God’s creatures.
‘I used to like this town,’ muses Chandler’s Philip Marlowe as he drives
west on Sunset with Dolores in The Little Sister (1949). ‘Los Angeles
was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style. Now
we’ve got the big money, the sharp shooters, the percentage workers,
the fast-dollar boys, the hoodlums out of New York and Chicago . . .
the flashy restaurants and nightclubs they run . . . the riffraff of a big
hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper-cup.’
By the time The Little Sister had been published, the ‘big hard-boiled
city’ was already a swinging music town, thanks to the last of the great
internal migrations to Southern California. Whether its personality was as
meagre and soulless as Marlowe claimed is, to say the least, debatable.
the Avenue: West Coast Cool,
California Crazy
Some call it the land of sunshine,
Some call it old Central Avenue.
I call it a big old country town,
Where the folks don’t care what they do.
Crown Prince Waterford, ‘LA Blues’ (1947)
California was wide open – an experimental, innovative, and
exceptionally creative environment. People felt free to try new
ideas, anything at all. This kind of atmosphere produces its share
of kooks, weirdos, and psychotics, but it also produces brilliant
concepts in science, art, business, education, and spiritual matters
. . . released from ties to Europe’s conservative, rationalistic past,
Californians delved into new dimensions.
Paul Horn, Inside Paul Horn (1990)
As Mike Davis observed in his justly praised City of Quartz (1990), it is
a striking fact that Bertolt Brecht, who’d dreamed in faraway Europe of
a magical America, never bothered to explore the ‘real-life Mahagonny’
that was on his doorstep when he lived in Los Angeles. Peremptorily
dismissing the city from the comfort of his expensively nourished garden
in Santa Monica, the playwright and polemicist never saw the Boyle
Heights dancehalls, Wilmington honky-tonks and Central Avenue jazz
joints which made up its teeming musical nightlife.
Curiously, the most vibrant of these musical subcultures was to be found
in the black ghetto which had sprung up along Central Avenue, running
6 Waiting for the Sun
due south from downtown LA; curious, because Los Angeles had been
a bedrock of racism and bigotry ever since the days of its support for the
Confederacy during the Civil War.
The first blacks had come out to Southern California on the first
major wave of migration in the 1880s, yet there were still only 75,000
African-Americans in Los Angeles County in 1940. Watts (or ‘Mud
Town’) was established as a semi-rural black neighbourhood by the early
twenties, when migrants drifted in from the deep south and started small
businesses on Central Avenue – men like Elihu ‘Black Dot’ McGhee,
who came in from El Paso in 1926, opened a barbershop, and later
controlled the neighbourhood’s lucrative numbers racket. Also making
a living on the Avenue in the twenties were the jazz musicians Kid
Ory, Dink Johnson, Mutt Carey, Buddy Petit and the Black and Tan
Band, most of them originally from New Orleans. The legendary Jelly
Roll Morton was playing piano in a downtown whorehouse as early as
1918 and recorded in the early twenties for Johnny and ‘Reb’ Spikes’
local Sunshine label, the first black record company of any note in Los
An early ‘mayor’ of Central Avenue was bandleader Curtis Mosby,
who owned a store at Central and 23rd Street and founded the Apex
Club, heart of black nightlife. By the thirties, the Apex had become
the Club Alabam, and Cadillacs would line up outside on the street
every night. Here the new black bourgeoisie mingled with gangsters
and racketeers, providing a non-stop night parade of fur and fob-chains,
pinkie-rings and pompadours – double-breasted ghetto chic at its finest.
Next door to the famous Dunbar Hotel, where visiting celebrities stayed,
boxer Jack Johnson owned a club called the Showboat. Even the matine´e
idols of Hollywood made tracks to ‘darktown’ to check out floor shows
featuring the comedian Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, dancers such as
the brilliant Nicholas Brothers, and the ever-curvaceous assortments of
‘Original Creole Cuties’. Hampton and Basie and Lunceford were in and
out of Los Angeles every other month, and Ellington’s ground-breaking
Jump for Joy revue was a smash hit in the city. The place was cooking.
War equalled boom time in the forties, and Southerners of all descriptions
poured into Los Angeles. Whites settled in the San Fernando Valley
north of the city (and much further north in towns like Bakersfield, where
a strong country music scene developed); blacks, at a rate of almost 5,000 a
month, followed their predecessors into the ‘south-central’ areas of Watts
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 7
and Compton. From 1940 to 1945, when the city became the foundry of
the American war effort and jobs in the munitions industry were going
begging, the black population of Los Angeles doubled. By the war’s end,
it comprised one of Southern California’s biggest ethnic groups.
As this population grew, so Central Avenue became more bustlingly
alive. At night it was hard to move for the crowds promenading and
filing into clubs like the Plantation, the Downbeat, the Savoy, Lovejoy’s,
the Memo, and sometime Ellington singer Ivie Anderson’s celebrated
Chicken Shack. Here was the whole gamut of nocturnal life, from
the swankiest vaudeville theatres to the dingiest poolhalls. Here was
the ‘sea of opulence’ Art Pepper recalled from his teenage days in Lee
Young’s Alabam house band; here also were the cheap Chinese diners
and chicken-wire dives where vicious-looking men sat around plotting
heists and hijackings.
Somewhere between the two extremes were the innumerable ‘afterhours’
joints which littered the Avenue like rats’ nests: places like
Brother’s, the Turban Room, Jack’s Basket Room, Johnny Cornish’s
Double V, Stuff Crouch’s Backstage. These were open-house, bringa-
bottle, leave-your-piece-at-the-door establishments where you heard
the best music of all: raucous jump-blues singers such as Big Joe Turner,
tenor ‘cutting contests’ between hard-blowing young lions Wardell Gray
and Dexter Gordon. In the earliest of Walter Mosley’s excellent Easy
Rawlins novels, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990), after-hours clubs are places
where ‘you could come now and then and remember how it felt back
home in Texas, dreaming of California’.
Black club-owners were quick, too, to move into the ‘Little Tokyo’
area from which LA’s Japanese community had been so summarily
expelled after the Pearl Harbor attack. Here, north of the main Avenue
scene, one found places like the Rendezvous, the Cobra Room and
Shepp’s Playhouse, where a young Sammy Davis Jr sang and the audience
sometimes included Howard Hughes. At the Club Finale on First Street,
exiled New Yorker Howard McGhee led LA’s first real bop band.
The wartime boom did not mean that blacks were any more readily
accepted by white Angelenos. In a city where there was strong Ku Klux
Klan activity, and where blacks were continually being driven out of
insulated white neighbourhoods, it was never easy for African-Americans
to embrace the Californian dream in the way whites did. ‘Black LA is a
place where people came to realize their dreams,’ says Walter Mosley,
8 Waiting for the Sun
who grew up in Watts during the fifties. ‘Many people did realize them,
but many were trapped in the image they brought with them from the
South, and all of that was informed by the racism of whites, or of blacks
towards themselves.’
Even black stars as big as Nat ‘King’ Cole and Hattie (Gone With the
Wind ) McDaniel suffered violent harassment from whites. After Cole’s
purchase of a mock-tudor home in swanky Hancock Park in 1948,
wealthy white neighbours not only refused to speak to him but burned
crosses on his lawn. Bandleader Roy Porter recalled police having to
escort him back to Pico Boulevard after a show in Hollywood, and
pianist/vocal coach Eddie Beal was asked to sit at a separate table from
a white colleague when he went to hear Count Basie at Culver City’s
Cotton Club in 1949. The LA PD were themselves on a crusade against
any kind of miscegenation in the city, especially when it was a case of
white (or at least light-skinned) girls – like Moose Malloy’s Velma in
Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely – hanging around the Avenue. Pianist
Hampton Hawes recalled that ‘on any weekend night on Central Avenue
in the forties’, it was not unusual for a whole clubful of mixed-race couples
to be frogmarched down to the Newton Street station for inspection.
The rage of black musicians like Charles Mingus – who once tore down
the black jockey statuettes on the lawns of Rossmore Avenue because he
detested their antebellum associations – found its voice in Chester Himes’
searing 1945 novel If He Hollers, Let Him Go, which straddled the worlds
of Watts and the educated black bourgeoisie. ‘If you couldn’t swing
down Hollywood Boulevard and know that you belonged,’ fulminated
Himes’ hero Robert Jones; ‘if you couldn’t make a polite pass at Lana
Turner at Ciro’s without having the gendarmes beat the black off you
for getting out of your place; if you couldn’t eat a thirty-dollar dinner at
a hotel without choking on the insults, being a great big “Mister” nigger
didn’t mean a thing.’ Himes himself encountered the ingrained racism of
Hollywood after Jack Warner stipulated that he ‘didn’t want no niggers’
on the Warner Brothers lot, even if they could write screenplays. ‘Under
the mental corrosion of race prejudice in LA,’ Himes wrote, ‘I became
bitter and saturated with hate.’
Among the many jazz clubs in Hollywood in the forties – the Ubangi,
the Century, Shep Kelley’s, the Swanee Inn, the Rum Boogie, Jimmy
Otto’s Steak House – a few made a point of welcoming integrated
audiences. One such was Billy Berg’s, a one-storey stucco building at 1356
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 9
North Vine Street where a Greyhound bus station now stands, bringing
in all those starstruck dreamers and runaways from the boondocks. It was
here, significantly, that modern jazz first hit Hollywood with the full force
of the East Coast bebop revolution in late 1945.
When Billy Berg asked Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson to recommend
some New York acts for the club, Gibson had no hesitation in urging
him to book the all-star Dizzy Gillespie sextet, featuring the one-man
whirlwind of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. Although it hardly did great business,
perplexing punters used to the Hipster and Slim Gaillard, the sextet’s
eight-week stint at Berg’s had an immediate impact on such local heroes
as Hampton Hawes and Teddy Edwards, who could scarcely believe what
they were hearing. ‘Not everybody embraced it, but it was incredibly
exciting if you were 22,’ says Buddy Collette, one of the few players
from that era to survive in LA with his health and sanity intact. ‘Gillespie
and Parker came in with a completely new way of storytelling – new notes
and lines, flat ninths. When those scales and chords came in, it was hard to
hear them, you had to know what they were. So it got more technical,
rather than just being a case of finding some notes and playing around
the blues.’
Charlie Parker was predictably elusive in LA, constantly disappearing
in search of heroin that was far more expensive than it was in the east,
but he was at least together enough to cut sides for tiny labels like Bel
Tone. After Dizzy returned to New York, moreover, Parker stayed on,
landing a gig with Howard McGhee’s band at the Club Finale and cutting
such famous sides as ‘Ornithology’ and ‘Night in Tunisia’ for Ross Russell,
an ex-marine who ran a record store in Hollywood and issued records on
his little Dial label.
Bird’s main preoccupations in LA were more accurately reflected by
‘Moose the Mooche’, inspired by a crippled dope dealer who peddled
his wares from a shoeshine parlour on Central Avenue. The heroin habit
proved increasingly debilitating: after the Finale’s temporary closure, Bird
ended up living in a garage, all but penniless. In July, on the night he
recorded the heartbreaking ballad ‘Lover Man’ at C. P. MacGregor’s
studio on Western Avenue, he nodded out in a hotel and set fire to
his mattress – a typical junkie tale, but one which landed him in the
nut ward at Camarillo State Hospital for six months. The stay probably
saved his life. Certainly he was in better shape when he emerged in
January 1947 to take up a residency at the Hi-De-Ho Club with Howard
10 Waiting for the Sun
McGhee and Hampton Hawes. By the time he returned to New York in
March, he’d cut further electrifying sessions for Dial (including the drolly
titled ‘Relaxin’ at Camarillo’) and left a mark on West Coast jazz that was
virtually indelible.
Bird’s later claim that no one on the Coast understood what he was
doing may just have been the standard New York contempt for California;
he can hardly have failed to be aware of the manifold influences, both
musical and narcotic, that he’d had on the LA scene. By the same token,
his denunciations of Ross Russell – who moved his Dial operation to
New York after Bird had returned there – were probably the standard
grouching of a musician. ‘Quite a few people took the opposite line and
said Ross Russell was a saint,’ says jazz writer Kirk Silsbee.
Russell certainly managed to record some important LA musicians
before he moved east. In the wake of M GM film editor Norman Granz’s
seminal ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ ‘sax battles’ between Lester Young and
Coleman Hawkins (and Illinois Jacquet and Flip Phillips), Dial issued sides
like the seven-minute Dexter Gordon–Wardell Gray classic ‘The Chase’
and the Gordon–Teddy Edwards ‘The Duel’, thrilling bop jousts between
men whom Hampton Hawes called ‘the keepers of Bird’s flame’. Gray,
who’d come to LA with Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines and usually had the edge
over Gordon, would spar with the latter at the Downbeat, then schlep
up to joints like Jack’s Basket Room, where the music became rawer
and wilder by the hour. To the old bandleaders of the swing era they
posed a clear threat, but to their fellow players they were the new rulers
of the jazz scene.
By the time Gray and Gordon were duelling for Ross Russell and
the after-hours club-owners, Central Avenue was already coming to
the end of its boom period: Russell himself wrote that ‘The high
point was reached in the spring of ’46, after which wartime prosperity
subsided into saner, squarer modes of life.’ The big spenders
had gone, and only the established clubs were surviving. Elihu ‘Black
Dot’ McGhee, who managed the Downbeat, laid the blame on blacks
who were moving away from the Avenue to assimilate into white
LA. Bandleader Johnny Otis argued that the return of white soldiers
from the war had displaced blacks from the employment they’d
enjoyed. Whatever the precise reasons, the decline set in, and it hit
the jazzmen hard. ‘All the hip cats on the corner/They don’t look so
sharp no mo’,’ sang Jimmy Witherspoon on his 1947 side ‘Skid Row
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 11
Blues’, ‘Coz all the good times is over/And the squares don’t have no
By the early fifties, the Avenue was almost dead, leaving only a few
diehards – Hampton Hawes, Sonny Criss, Harold Land, Curtis Counce
– to carry the torch into the next decade. Addiction put Dexter Gordon’s
career on hold for close to a decade, and it killed Wardell Gray. Men like
Mingus went east and stayed. Simultaneously, a new West Coast sound
took root among white players who’d come off the road after stints in the
big bands of Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet. Eventually
dubbed the ‘cool’ sound of sunny Southern California, it took its cue
not from the breathless bop runs of Bird but from the dreamy, wistful
phrasing of Lester Young and the neo-classical constructions of pianist
Lennie Tristano. Above all, it was anchored in the seminal Birth of the
Cool sessions of 1949, when Miles Davis had teamed up in New York
with Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan and others to push jazz beyond bop into
a new era of composition and arrangement.
Although the Birth sessions weren’t properly released until 1957, the
Davis Nonet held great appeal for the formally trained white players who’d
settled in Los Angeles in the late forties: men such as Shorty Rogers,
for example, who’d arrived in 1946 and joined Kenton’s LA-based
Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra two years later. In the Orchestra,
Rogers wrote for the players who would form the bedrock of West Coast
jazz in the fifties – Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Shelly Manne
– and forged close friendships with all of them. For him as for many of
them, LA was a place of warmth and comfort, a place to put down roots
and bring up kids. Furthermore, with work in the film studios, there was
for the first time the real possibility of long-term financial security.
Rogers, aided by his new cohorts, effectively put West Coast jazz on
the map with Modern Sounds (1952), an album featuring such Kentonesque
instruments as the tuba and the French horn, new sounds far removed
from the raw improvisation of bop. By the time he’d decided to quit the
road for good and put together an ‘All-Stars’ band for Howard Rumsey’s
Lighthouse club, West Coast jazz was a reality. ‘Shorty told me that all his
kids had been born nine months after Christmas,’ says Kirk Silsbee. ‘That
12 Waiting for the Sun
was the only time he’d ever got to see his wife, and he was tired of it.
So he grabbed the chance to play for Rumsey. The money was chump
change, but it sharpened his writing skills considerably, and that was very
The Lighthouse at 30 Pier Avenue on Hermosa Beach, with its 180
seats and kitsch Polynesian decor, quickly became the laboratory of ‘cool’
white jazz. Ironically, the first bands Rumsey hired for the club had
featured the cream of the Central Avenue survivors – Teddy Edwards,
Sonny Criss, Hampton Hawes – and there may have been an insidious
racism at work in their gradual replacement by Rogers and his Kentonite
cronies. Certainly the black players regarded the ‘writing skills’ of Shorty
Rogers with scepticism. ‘Shorty was a great writer,’ says Buddy Collette,
‘but I’m not sure that he was a great jazz writer, in the sense of someone
who came up with new sonorities or encouraged his players to come up
with new sonorities.’
The prevailing view of the West Coast from New York’s down beat
circles tended to take the same line, stereotyping the cool sound as
cerebral, filleted, bloodless. If it wasn’t quite that simple, since the Lighthouse’s
famous Sunday afternoon jam sessions were often dominated by
exuberant improvising, it’s true that Rogers and his acolytes increasingly
eschewed blues and saxophones for flutes and oblique neo-classicism.
‘Being a jazz musician, you got full of curiosity to see what you could
make of something,’ Bud Shank recalled; ‘we rose to those challenges
and then moved along to something else.’ Pianist Lou Levy conceded
that West Coast was ‘a little bit lower-keyed’, adding that ‘it was just a
little bit whiter than black’ but arguing that there was ‘nothing wrong
with that’.
Bolstering the work of Shorty Rogers were more recent arrivals in Los
Angeles. The emaciated baritonist Gerry Mulligan, already a hardened
junkie, hitchhiked across America in 1952 and landed a Monday night
gig at a converted bungalow on Wilshire Boulevard called the Haig Club.
Alongside him was 22-year-old trumpeter Chet Baker, an Oklahoman
who’d already made an impact that year playing with Charlie Parker, plus
a rhythm section comprising drummer Chico Hamilton and bassist Bob
Whitlock. This was the famous pianoless quartet, Mulligan’s monophonic
attempt to free jazz from the limits imposed by chords. It had its critics,
who derided its sound as ‘neo-Dixieland’, but like Rogers’ Modern Sounds
it was a key influence on the kind of restrained ‘chamber jazz’ later heard in
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 13
the work of tenorman/clarinettist Jimmy Giuffre and in Chico Hamilton’s
own groups. This was contrapuntal cool – quintessential West Coast.
Mulligan was still playing John Bennett’s Haig club when the brilliant
altoist Lee Konitz – another alumnus of the Birth of the Cool class – joined
the lineup in early 1953. The group’s riveting treatments of standards like
‘Lover Man’, ‘These Foolish Things’ and ‘Too Marvellous for Words’,
released by Richard Bock’s fledgling Pacific Jazz label, remain outstanding
examples of the Cool sound, fascinating in their very abstraction. After
getting banged up on a dope charge that summer, however, Mulligan
decided he’d had enough of California.* Like Charlie Parker and Howard
McGhee before him, Mulligan disavowed the West Coast connection
once he was back in New York. ‘My bands would have been successful
anywhere,’ he claimed. ‘I had very little contact with anything that was
going on out there.’
One musician who didn’t – couldn’t – put on these airs was native
Angeleno Art Pepper. ‘Pepper was a rare example of the homegrown
LA musician,’ says Kirk Silsbee. ‘He was a guy whose conception of the
horn was formed during the swing era, but who developed independent
of New York influence. He had to deal with bebop as everybody else
did, but like Chet Baker he essentially made an end-run around Charlie
Parker.’ Pepper was one of the real stars of the West Coast sound, and
everyone wanted his iridescent lyricism on their sessions. ‘Art to me was
the sound of West Coast jazz,’ said arranger-bandleader Marty Paich. ‘It
was a melodic style rather than the hard-driving New York style a lot of
the players had adopted.’
Unfortunately, Pepper also fell victim to the same narcotic temptations
which had ensnared Gerry Mulligan and so many others. Turned on to
heroin during a Stan Kenton tour in 1950, Pepper spent much of the
subsequent decade behind bars, his infamous life becoming a kind of
squalid flipside to the ‘cool’ jazz world of cocktails, sports slacks, and
continental coupe´s. This was the grimy James Ellroy reality behind
the fac¸ade created by William Claxton’s photographs and Bob Guidi’s
* It was down to Gene Norman, an influential promoter and disc jockey for whom
he’d cut some tentette sessions, that Mulligan got out. ‘I often used to get musicians
out of the Honor Farm,’ says Norman, who still runs his GNP-Crescendo operation
from an office above a Sunset Boulevard hotel. ‘Mulligan, Wardell Gray, Frank
Morgan, Stan Getz, you name them. I had some clout because I used to plug
things for the Sheriff on my radio show!’
14 Waiting for the Sun
designs for West Coast album covers – particularly those on Contemporary
releases. By 1954, Art was incarcerated in the grim, aptly named Terminal
Island, overlooking the San Pedro of his miserable childhood.
If there was one label-owner who held the key to the West Coast
sound of the fifties, it was Contemporary’s sainted Lester Koenig, who’d
been director William Wyler’s assistant at Paramount before falling foul of
Joe McCarthy’s House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Koenig not
only kept faith with hopeless addicts of the Art Pepper variety, he gave the
stars of the Lighthouse bands free rein with their experiments. ‘We were
immersed in jazz twenty-five hours a day,’ said Shorty Rogers. ‘When I
was in the Lighthouse band with guys like Giuffre and Shank, we’d write
music during the day and drive down there and play it all night.’ If many
of the All-Stars recordings weren’t exactly challenging, there were always
enough interesting players on them to make the experiments worthy of
investigation. As forums within which these players could develop, the
Contemporary sessions were unparalleled.
True, the Bud Shank/Bob Cooper Flute’n’Oboe album could be said
to have taken the cool tendency too far, and when M GM staffer Andre´
Previn had a million-selling album in 1956 with a cool-jazz treatment of
the My Fair Lady soundtrack there was clearly an argument for flushing
the whole thing down the toilet. By any other name, this stuff was
Muzak. But it was harder to dismiss recordings by, say, the Chico
Hamilton Quintet, who incorporated Fred Katz’s slithering cello into an
ensemble featuring Buddy Collette and guitarist Jim Hall. ‘Chico was the
leader of a trailblazing group,’ wrote Paul Horn, Collette’s replacement
in the quintet in 1956. ‘In a sense, he lived in a middle ground, a kind
of no-man’s-land between black jazz, which springs from the heart of
America’s black culture, and white jazz, influenced by European classical
music, perhaps especially as written by Fred Katz. Chico led this group
because he liked blending straight-ahead jazz with classical music.’ Horn
here sums up the acquired-taste appeal of West Coast jazz, which of late
has come in for some long-overdue reassessment. Once dismissed as ‘a
neatly packaged soundtrack for the Cold War’, the cool style now has
begrudging admirers among those who wouldn’t have been caught dead
listening to a Shorty Rogers album.
Chico Hamilton was one of the many artists recorded by Lester
Koenig’s chief rival, Dick Bock, the man who signed Chet Baker
shortly after the young trumpeter’s unceremonious dismissal by Gerry
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 15
Mulligan in the summer of 1953. Baker’s 1953 recordings with sidemen
like Shelly Manne, pianist Russ Freeman, and altoist Herb Geller were
among the best West Coast jazz of the time, and the following year Bock
even persuaded Baker to sing, thus making him an honorary member
of the vibratoless ‘vo-cool’ school established by Anita O’Day and June
Christy. If Baker’s cheekbones helped him turn into the Jimmy Dean of
jazz, his smack habit made him almost as much of a junkie icon as Billie
Interestingly, although his vo-cool classics typify the breezy style of
the white West Coast, Chet Baker was one of the players who helped
mount a revolt against that laid-back sound with a band he called ‘The
Crew’. The spur for this neo-bop ‘hard’ sound of the mid-fifties was
the astounding group formed in LA by East Coaster Max Roach.
Roach had drummed with the Lighthouse All-Stars for six months,
relishing the club’s drug-free atmosphere, but in the spring of 1954
he responded to Gene Norman’s requests for shows by bringing the
brilliant young trumpeter Clifford Brown over from Philadelphia and
pairing him with such practitioners of ‘hard’ jazz as Teddy Edwards,
Harold Land, Herb Geller and Joe Maini – all players holding fast to
the spirit of bop. The furious splendour of the Roach/Brown band
on pieces such as ‘Parisian Thoroughfare’ and reworkings of standards
like ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ almost blew the cool school out of
the water.
The following year saw similar manifestations of the ‘hard’ sound in
the work of Hampton Hawes, who spoke of retaining a certain ‘funk’ in
the face of cerebral white jazz. Also briefly on the same scene again was
Dexter Gordon, making up for his lost years in the pen with recordings for
the Bethlehem label. Yet the bleak truth is that most of the black players
who chose to stay in LA were neglected. ‘If you didn’t get exposure
back east,’ said Harold Land, ‘you were written off.’ Which isn’t to
say that Land or Edwards or Hawes or Sonny Criss would necessarily
have fared any better in New York; only perhaps that had they been as
versatile as a man like Buddy Collette they might have got more work in
the studios. Doubtless it was envy which prompted a certain scorn for the
Collettes of the world. ‘He used to really play, but Whitey scared him
white inside,’ wrote Charles Mingus of Collette in Beneath the Underdog,
although he went on to advise Lucky Thompson not to try to ‘cut Buddy
in his own bag’: ‘Everybody in the studio clique tried it. He plays flute,
16 Waiting for the Sun
clarinet, everything – just like the white man says you’re supposed to and
a little fuller.’
Collette, who knows that his jazz reputation suffered even as his coffers
were swelled by Hollywood studio work, remembers Charlie Parker
saying to him in 1952, ‘I wish I could be like you, with a nice apartment
and a brand-new car and a chicken dinner with all the trimmings.’ ‘See,
I don’t care who you are,’ Collette says today, ‘it’s lonely when you’re
not working. Parker didn’t play any doubles, so he didn’t get the studio
calls I got. That was why me and a bunch of guys went to music school
and studied woodwind after the war ended. I was looking into the future,
and I didn’t see a decent living in the clubs. You couldn’t necessarily play
what you wanted to in the clubs anyway. Half the people who hired you
just wanted to hear “Stardust” or “Over the Rainbow”.’ Buddy says that
while he himself was raking in $130 for a three-hour shift on The Groucho
Marx Show, Bird was lucky to total $200 a week in a club.
It was Collette who, with Mingus and others, helped bring about the
merging of the separate black and white musicians’ unions in Los Angeles.
‘It took about three years of hard work,’ he says. ‘Really, it came out of
a date Mingus played with Billy Eckstine at the Million Dollar Theater,
where he was the only black guy in the band. He brought me down
to the theatre to show them I could play, and the white drummer Milt
Holland came up to us and said, “I hear you guys want one union – I
have some friends who feel the same way.”’ Despite the opposition of
a separatist black faction, who felt they wouldn’t have an equal say in its
affairs, Local 47 was a single union by 1953.
The merging of the unions did not significantly alter the disparity
between studio opportunities for white players and those for blacks. The
lucky ones – like Collette, Red Callender, Marl Young – found TV and
film work, but most of the black musicians who couldn’t ‘double up’
had a lean time of it. ‘Let’s just say that people hire their friends,’ says
Kirk Silsbee. ‘That’s what the studio system is all about. You had to be
approved and led in by the hand. Once you’d proved yourself, you were
in. On the other hand, there were lots of very capable musicians who
were not allowed in, and when you look at their worldwide reputations
you wonder why.’ Sonny Criss, dubbed ‘the fastest alto player alive’ by
Ornette Coleman, claimed he’d never seen the inside of a film studio
in LA, yet he was working on a film within two weeks of arriving
in Paris.
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 17
Out on the street, the name of the game was still raw survival. And as
the fifties went on, the street got tougher by the month. Central Avenue
was now the haunt of junkies and muggers, many of them musicians
from the Avenue’s glory days. ‘The casualty list in the fifties,’ wrote
Hampton Hawes, ‘started to look like the Korean War was being fought
at the corner of Central and 45th.’ In White Butterfly, set in 1956, Walter
Mosley writes of ‘Bone Street’, four long and jagged blocks just west of
Central near 103rd Street: here, he notes, there were no more Cadillacs,
no more foxy ladies in furs, only weeds pushing up through the cracked
sidewalks. ‘The jazzmen had found new arenas,’ reflects Mosley’s private
eye Easy Rawlins. ‘Many had gone to Paris and New York. But the blues
was still with us. The blues would always be with us.’
To Art Pepper, who fell on such hard times that he was obliged at
one point to work as a door-to-door accordion salesman, the clubs grew
‘smaller and sleazier’ as the decade wore on. Even when he did get a
break, recording once again for Lester Koenig, he managed to sabotage the
opportunity to change. Unhappy in ‘this false paradise I’d carved out for
myself in Studio City’, he helped two Chicano junkies break into a club
next door to his apartment, and by 1961 was banged up in San Quentin.
But then Pepper’s is a singularly sad and ignoble story: there is never even
the sense that the music was any kind of compensation for all the squalor
and violence. ‘As a person, he was one of the most loathsome, horrible
human beings anybody can imagine,’ says Kirk Silsbee. ‘And yet he was
capable of playing as well as anybody in jazz. What can you say?’
There were a few last gasps of the West Coast scene which had
bloomed in the forties. The four albums cut by Shelly Manne’s Men
at San Francisco’s Black Hawk proved there was still fire in even the
most seasoned studio cats, while albums by Harold Land, Curtis Amy and
Teddy Edwards gave the lie to the stock notion that the LA ‘hard’ school
was irreparably burnt out. Manne even managed to keep his Hollywood
club the Manne-Hole going for the fourteen years between 1960 and
1974, though he made his bread-and-butter wages alongside old pals like
Shorty Rogers and Bob Cooper in the movie studios.
But by the same token Chet Baker, a hopeless addict by the early
sixties, was reduced to cutting sub-Tijuana Brass albums for Liberty.
‘Chet was unravelling hard and heavy,’ says A &R man and producer
Nik Venet, who worked with him briefly at World Pacific. ‘People like
him were starting to get a look in their eyes I’d never seen before, a look
18 Waiting for the Sun
of desperation. A lot of them started experimenting with soundtracks and
pop shows, and it was disastrous.’ Baker’s fellow junkie Hampton Hawes
met a similar fate when he wound up on the cocktail-lounge circuit.
Playing Mitchell’s Studio Club in Hollywood in 1965, Hawes felt like it
was ‘the final act, the last gig of its kind – those straight-ahead improvising
jobs where you could stretch out and burn all night’.
One atypical figure had emerged out of the LA jazz scene in the
fifties and inadvertently signalled its decline. Ornette Coleman had
come west with urban bluesman Pee Wee Crayton in 1950 but only
settled in California four years later. Virtually self-taught, and ignoring
the standard rules he did know, he quickly became a laughing-stock
among the Lighthouse and Central Avenue regulars, who assumed he
couldn’t play. In fact, Coleman was attempting to take jazz out of the
tonal system altogether, opening the way for the ‘free jazz’ of the sixties.
And fortunately, before he could get too disheartened, he connected
with a group of young players who weren’t yet completely set in their
musical ways.
Local boy Don Cherry, who’d grown up on Central Avenue, first
heard the sound of Coleman’s white plastic alto coming from a record
store one afternoon in August 1956. ‘I could hear him a block away,
and it was something like a horse whinnying,’ he recalled. Musicians like
Cherry soon recognized that Coleman was an original. When the two
men hitched themselves to a group led by Paul Bley at the Hillcrest on
Washington Boulevard, a landmark avant-jazz unit was born. Not that
you’d have known it from the reaction of the club’s patrons, for whom
the ‘out-of-tune’ caterwauling was too much to take. ‘The audience
literally walked out of the club every time we played,’ remembered
Bley’s then-wife Carla.
Predictably, Lester Koenig was the only man prepared to take a risk with
this radically free sound, though Coleman tempered his wilder instincts
on the comparatively accessible Contemporary debut Something Else!, cut
in February 1958. The following year, Atlantic’s Nesuhi Ertegun brought
Coleman and band to New York, where they were an immediate succe`s
de scandale at the Five Spot in November 1959. ‘To Ornette, LA was a
sort of laboratory, as it had been to Mingus, and to the Mulligan/Baker
band, and to some extent to Eric Dolphy,’ says Kirk Silsbee. ‘So often
Los Angeles has served as a laboratory for musicians, and of course once
they’ve gotten themselves together they go to the marketplace.’ Ted
On the Avenue: West Coast Cool, California Crazy 19
Gioia reaches a similar conclusion in his excellent book West Coast Jazz,
adding that ‘as with Dolphy and Mingus, the West Coast proved it could
develop an avant-garde but was capable neither of appreciating it once it
came to be, nor of establishing it as a legitimate form of jazz worthy of
close attention, widespread dissemination, and emulation.’
‘Time has not treated these men badly,’ wrote Richard Williams when
the re-formed Lighthouse All-Stars (Rogers, Cooper, Shank, Levy, et al.)
played London’s Royal Albert Hall in November 1991. ‘Rogers, 67, sails
his boat out of Marina del Rey, where he has an oceanside condo . . .’ Ah
yes, but what of all those fallen heroes? What of the ‘big old country town’
where men in spats and double-breasted suits had stepped out of Cadillacs
and floated through the doors of the swankiest clubs in California? Where
did it all go?

So rigid is the stratification into which historians organize their accounts
of musical evolution that one might be forgiven for assuming that ‘jazz’
and ‘rhythm and blues’ were entirely distinct musical spheres. But the
fact is that in Los Angeles as elsewhere, there was continual interchange
between the two spheres. If rhythm and blues, the label pinned on to
‘race’ music by Billboard writer Gerald Wexler in 1949, was a cruder,
more populist version of jazz, that didn’t stop a host of jazz musicians
from dabbling in it. Hardcore bop freaks might have castigated R&B (or
‘jump’ blues) as ‘cornbread’ music, but many of their heroes were perfectly
happy to muddy the fine line between ‘art’ and ‘entertainment’. ‘Blues
was basic music, and we’d all grown up with it,’ says Buddy Collette. ‘It’s
almost like you grow up with home cooking, and then you get to the
point where you’re eating caviar. But you can always go back to home
cooking. You can always go back to the blues.’
Blues tunes had been a staple part of the repertoires of big bands
in the Southwest ever since the thirties, when singers such as Jimmy
Rushing, Walter Brown and Julia Lee roared over blaring saxophonists
and churning rhythm sections. For all the instrumental virtuosity of the
great swing-era players, people still came to see these bands in order to
dance, drink and flirt. By the early 1940s, in the novel atmosphere of
wartime prosperity, there was a huge demand for the ‘territory’ bands

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