West Coast Jazz Legend Howard Rumsey Passes At 97
July 27, 2015 at 12:33 PM (PT)
HOWARD RUMSEY, a jazz bassist who helped popularize the WEST COAST '50s scene as leader of the LIGHTHOUSE ALL-STARS, died on JULY 15th in NEWPORT BEACH, CA, at 97 from complications of pneumonia, according to the NEW YORK TIMES.
RUMSEY transformed the LIGHTHOUSE CAFE, a struggling POLYNESIAN-themed nightclub on the ocean in HERMOSA BEACH into the center of postwar, CALIFORNIA jazz. He went on to form a top-level house ensemble, the LIGHTHOUSE ALL-STARS; booked college-circuit tours; and started his own record company, LIGHTHOUSE RECORDS.
RUMSEY had worked in STAN KENTON’s first big band, and later with CHARLIE BARNET’s. In 1948, he moved to HERMOSA BEACH, and soon proposed the idea of SUNDAY afternoon jam sessions to the LIGHTHOUSE’s owner. Starting in 1949, he ran the club’s music bookings, turning the SUNDAY sessions into 12-hour marathons and having the band play evenings during the week as well.
Among the band’s core were the trumpeters SHORTY ROGERS and CONTE CONDOLI, the saxophonists BOB COOPER, JIMMY GIUFFRE and BUD SHANK, the trombonist FRANK ROSOLINO; and the drummers STAN LEVEY and SHELLY MANNE. MAX ROACH played drums with the band for a time in 1953.
The group disbanded in the early '60s, but RUMSEY continued to book the club through the decade, increasingly with major out-of-town acts. By the mid-50s he had also started the INTERCOLLEGIATE JAZZ FESTIVAL Ito help develop talent in SOUTHERN CALIFRONIA.
From 1971 to his retirement in 1985, he managed and booked the music at CONCERTS BY THE SEA, a jazz club in REDONDO BEACH.
He had no immediate survivors.