While West Coast jazz provided some of the most indelible images associated with improvisational music, the music itself was far more varied and adventurous--as well as more resonant--than critical consensus has been willing to concede. The 61 tracks in this 4-CD anthology provide a continuously engaging big picture of all of the improvisational happenings on the Pacific Coast from 1950 through the mid-Sixties.
To be sure, West Coast Jazz became the most widely-popular jazz style since the halcyon days of Swing in the late 1930s because of such tuneful golden boys as Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan, cerebral cats like Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, and peerless melodists on the order of Stan Getz--all of whom are included herein. But the umbrella term AWest Coast@ here covers Central Avenue (main drag of black Los Angeles' pulsating night life) as well as Hermosa Beach (home base of bassist Howard Rumsey's legendary Lighthouse jazz club), San Francisco's North Beach, or the thriving Hollywood studio scene that provided lucrative employment for some in the Southern California jazz set.
From the pure bop of the dueling tenor men Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray to the roaring big band of Stan Kenton (an incubator of Cool); from exotic chamber jazz (Chico Hamilton, featuring Eric Dolphy) to scorching hard hop (the Curtis Counce Group); from the first rays of bossa nova (Brazil's Laurindo Almeida with Bud Shank) to the shape of jazz to come (Ornette Coleman), plus visiting East Coast stars (Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, John Lewis) and so much more, The West Coast Jazz Box provides proof positive of jazz's universality.