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Jazz On The West Coast: The Lighthouse 2011 NR


The Lighthouse was the premiere jazz club on the west coast during the 1950s and 60s. It was the breeding ground for jazz on the west coast. The story of the Lighthouse is finally documented in this important jazz film.

1 hour, 19 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Kenneth L. Koenig
Studio RoseKing Productions
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Richard Narcisso on January 25, 2007
Format: DVD
West Coast Jazz is like the crazy Uncle locked in the basement: There's lots of evidence of its existance, but not a lot of formal acknowledgement... The exception here is this very important and informative DVD documentary by Ken Koenig, which, unfortunately, is not well known or distributed. As a huge fan of the California Sound of the 50s and 60s, I always thought it was odd that there's so little information about it on the internet and elsewhere. This Documentary is an excellent place to start. The Lighthouse was a divey, beach-front bar in Hermosa Beach, California. In the early 1950s it became one of the cornerstones of Southern California Jazz. Howard Rumsey, a bassist, and friend of owner John Levine, was charged with having a jazz group on stage jamming every night. The players in his "Light House All Stars", as the band became known, turned out to be a who's who of West Coast Jazz. Many albums were recorded on the Contemporary Records label that recorded live sessions of the group on a fairly regular basis during 1952-1957. Regulars included such major players as Shorty Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Rolf Ericson, Stu Williamson, Conte Candoli, Milt Bernhart, Bob Enevoldsen, Frank Rosolino, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Cooper, Bud Shank, Hampton Hawes, Marty Paich, Claude Williamson, Sonny Clark, Shelly Manne, Max Roach, Stan Levey, and guests Miles Davis and Chet Baker were among the participants..... The DVD features lots of insights from Rumsey himself, interspersed with rare vintage pictures and additional commentary from bartenders, waitresses, musicians and patrons of the famous polynesian-styled jazz bar. Whether you are a student of jazz, or a casually interested music fan, chances are this will be material you've never seen nor heard before, and extremely well worth the 80 minutes of your time!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joe Lang on December 17, 2007
Format: DVD
A few years ago, I was seated in a bus riding from Los Angeles to Hermosa Beach to see the Phil Norman Tentet play at the Lighthouse Café, a shrine for jazz fans. I had been there once for a brief look see a year or two earlier, but there was no music going on - I just wanted to see the place. Seated next to me was another attendee at the four-day jazz event that I was attending, a stranger to me. We got to talking, and it turned out that it was a chap named Ken Koenig. He informed me that he was in the process of making a documentary about this jazz Mecca that we were about to visit.

Well, that film is now available as "Jazz on the West Coast: The Lighthouse," and it is a gas. Combining still photos, film clips and interviews, Koenig has created an affectionate and interesting portrait of this cauldron of West Coast Jazz.

Koenig has definitely done his homework well. He draws extensively from the interviews that he did with the musical guiding light of the club, bassist Howard Rumsey. The interviews are presented in a more complete form as a bonus feature on the DVD. Rumsey, now approaching 89 years of age, although he has the presence of a much younger man, has total recall about his days at the Lighthouse, and shares that information in a thorough and engaging manner. Among the other voices heard from are musicians Max Bennett, Milt Bernhart, Bill Holman, Bud Shank and Stan Levey. There are also recollections and commentary from Ross Levine, son of the club's owner John Levine, Los Angeles Jazz Institute Director Ken Poston, musicologist Robert Hughes, jazz photographer William Claxton, Lighthouse bartender Ken Kolar, jazz journalist Kirk Silsbee and jazz historian Robert Gordon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Gordon on January 10, 2008
Format: DVD
It was an unlikely setting for a world famous jazz club. Nearly an hour's drive from downtown L.A. (in the days before the freeway system was completed), and located in a somewhat seedy bar a half block from the beach, the Lighthouse Cafe nonetheless became a magnet for modern jazz lovers the world over. Thanks to the tireless efforts of owner John Levine and musical director/bandleader Howard Rumsey, the club developed into a center for the burgeoning West coast Jazz movement of the 1950s. Fans from Europe and Japan would tavel halfway around the world just to catch a couple of sets.

Ken Koenig catches the ambiance of those halcyon days in loving detail, but there is much more to his film. The DVD affords a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the day to day operations of a jazz club, and features interviews with many of the musicians, bartenders, and waitresses who were instrumental in the club's success. Chances are you'll be surprised at the amount of hard, extra-musical work necessary for running a successful jazz club. For instance, Levine and Rumsy joined the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce help turn the initially reluctant and even hostile city fathers into enthusiastic supporters of the club.

Above all, the ongoing conversation with Howard Rumsey, the perpetually youthful and articulate spokesman for jazz, is in itself worth the price of admission. If you've ever wondered about the term West Coast Jazz, or wanted to know what the jazz scene in southern California was like in the 1950s, this is your chance to find out. And, I might add, have a very enjoyable viewing and listening experience at the same time.
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