Bassist Chuck Deardorf called my attention to a video from the early 1960s, when jazz on the west coast of the US was attracting attention around the world. Many big band sidemen settled in southern California in the 1950s, joining the Los Angeles jazz community that had been vibrant for more than a decade. The former Woody Herman and Stan Kenton trumpeter Shorty Rogers was one of the spark plugs of what critics decided to label West Coast Jazz. By the time Oscar Brown, Jr. hosted Rogers’ quintet on his Jazz Scene USA television show, Rogers had had become influential as a composer, arranger and leader in L.A.’s recording, film and TV studios.
Jazz Scene USA production is a bit stiff. The show is made to appear as if it had a live audience, but the applause smacks of having been dubbed later. In their closeups when Brown introduces them, the guys in the band exhibit their police lineup faces. But the music, the video and the sound are excellent. In this 25-minute segment of the telecast, Rogers, saxophonist and flutist Gary LeFebvre, pianist Lou Levy, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Larry Bunker play “Greensleeves,” “Time Was,” the blues “Martians Go Home”—which for a time in the mid-fifties had been a modest hit for Rogers— and Lefebvre’s edgy “The Outsider.”
Peacock, the survivor of that group, has been a member of the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio since 1983.