This research was originally published in the Dutch discography journal, Names & Numbers, No. 42, July 2007 and No. 44, January 2008 in slightly different form.
The recordings to be examined are commercial recordings that were issued on the Skylark, Lighthouse, Contemporary and Tampa labels within the time frame of the early 1950s when Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All Stars launched west coast jazz from their beachhead in Hermosa Beach. The recordings under discussion were the first commercial records to hit the retail market and make the Lighthouse All Stars an international sensation in jazz.
This fourth and final examination of the first recordings of the Lighthouse All Stars returns to BIG BOY and the multiple releases by Robert Scherman on his Skylark and Tampa labels.
The first releases on Skylark SK 538 and SK 538-45 were identical, all timing at a little under 4:10. Scherman manipulated the basic master recording of BIG BOY to produce M.M.B. (MORE BIG BOY) that was released on Skylark SK LP 12, JAM SESSION, VOL. 2, taking up one side of the 10” LP release. The same expanded version, M.B.B., was also released on Skylark EP 100.
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN had been released on Skylark SK LP 11, JAM SESSION, VOL. 1, where it was listed under the leadership of Paul Nero. Scherman used two label imprints for his fledgling record company, Skylark and Tampa. The reason for the two different labels is not clear as he seemed to mingle jazz releases on both labels with the same release numbers such as Tampa TP 11, THE HERBIE HARPER QUINTET, and Skylark SK 11, JAM SESSION, VOL 1. As we shall soon see, he also issued the same material on both labels. The 500 series 78 and 45 singles did not differentiate music styles either. The series included releases by Ace Dooley, Billy Devroe’s Devilaires, George Jenkins and the Lighthouse All Stars among others.
Scherman released two more variations of BIG BOY as 45 singles, one using the Skylark imprint and the other using the Tampa imprint, the standard timing on the original 78 and 45 singles, 4:08, was reduced to 3:52 on these releases, eliminating 0:16 of the introductory ensemble chorus repeats.
The commercial success of the Contemporary Lighthouse All Stars releases most likely played a part in Robert Scherman’s decision to reissue Skylark LP-12 as Tampa LP-12, SHORTY ROGERS AND THE LIGHTHOUSE ALL STARS. Scherman noted in his liner notes that Shorty and his group were currently playing at Zardi’s in Hollywood. Shorty’s group included former Lighthouse All Stars members Jimmy Giuffre and Shelly Manne. Shorty’s group had been playing at The Haig and switched places with the Chet Baker Quartet that had been playing at Zardi’s (as noted in the February 24, 1954 issue of DOWN BEAT, page 3).
To his credit, Robert Scherman did remaster the original February 1952 recordings for the Tampa record reissue. The Jimmy Giuffre Orchestra credit for the second and third vocals by Vivien Garry was deleted from the Tampa reissue leaving Shorty Rogers and The Lighthouse All Stars credit as backing all three tracks. Scherman does mention in the liner notes that Dick Taylor replaces Shorty Rogers on Whispering, but no mention is made concerning the guitar backing. Tony Rizzi had appeared on the Skylark and Tampa labels and is a likely candidate for the guitar backing on this track. The backing on these tracks as noted in Part One of this examination was by Dick Taylor and His Taylor Made Music.
The remastering removed the casual lounge noise from the beginning of M.B.B., the applause in the middle and at the end. The editing reduced the timing to 4:54. Scherman used the same matrix numbers with an RE suffix to note that the sides had been remastered.
A new 45 single labelled as BIG BOY was released as well, with the exact same timing as M.B.B. on Tampa LP 12, 4:55.
The same edited version timing at 4:54 would be released on a sampler LP as TAMPA – HI-FI SAMPLER – JAZZ SAMPLER, SA 100.
The same album would be reissued again by Scherman as TAMPA TP-11, JAZZ AMERICANA. The cover for JAZZ AMERICANA featured a color photo of a suspension bridge with a city skyline in the background. Scherman might have borrowed the title from Woody Woodward’s recent paperback publication for Trend Books that used the same title, JAZZ AMERICANA.
This concludes our review of the first recordings of the Lighthouse All Stars. We would once again like to extend our thanks to Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute whose collections have made this research possible.
We would also recommend once more the excellent documentary on the Lighthouse All Stars by Ken Koenig.