Yesterday I had the pleasure of performing at The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach. I was so excited to play at this legendary jazz club for so many reasons, but mostly because I love playing alto saxophone! This club has a long, long, long, history of hosting some of the most important historical figures in jazz. One of my favorite jazz musicians, Bud Shank used to regularly perform here regularly along with Art Pepper and other members of the Stan Kenton Jazz Orchestra in the 50's.
As I stood on the stage I looked down at the original hardwood dance floor and could envision the decades of jazz fans that crowded in to hear the lively music that filled the air. The club is small, so there was no need for me to use a microphone, which was great because I could really play loudly and fill up the room with my natural sound. From the stage, you could clearly see the roof of the building, with its many wooden beams and large sunlight. One of the coolest things about this club is that when you walk out the back near the restrooms, the hallway opens up to the pure pure sunlight and cool west coast breeze filtering in from the nearby Pacific Ocean. I would have loved to check out the music in the 50's when the club was really spearheading the movement of bebop jazz.
The Lighthouse had a resurgence a few years ago because it was featured in the hit movie La La Land. I think a lot of people visit the club because of this fame, but the real fame about this venue is due to the amazing musicians that have performed here over the past 60 plus years...
Here is a brief history from the Lighthouse website.
"The Lighthouse Cafe HistoryA restaurant called "Verpilate's" was built a short walk from the ocean at 30 Pier Avenue in 1934, and it was converted into "The Lighthouse", a bar, in 1940 ("Café" was added to the official name only when the business was sold in 1981). The club first began showcasing jazz music on May 29, 1949, when owner John Levine permitted bassist/band leader Howard Rumsey to start a recurring Sunday jam session on a trial basis. The experiment was a success. Rumsey became club manager soon after, and put together a house band called the Lighthouse All-Stars. While the club also hosted visiting groups, the Lighthouse All-Stars became a noted ensemble in its own right, which had among its guest musicians Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis. The longest-running members of the Lighthouse All-Stars were Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone), Conte Candoli (trumpet), and Stan Levey (drums). West Coast jazz stalwarts Shorty Rogers, Richie Kamuca, Bill Holman, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne, and Jimmy Giuffre were also regulars in the early days. Max Roach was the regular drummer for a while in 1953. The club also became an important venue for recordings; Art Pepper, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Mose Allison, Ramsey Lewis, Art Blakey, Charles Earland, Grant Green, Elvin Jones, Cal Tjader, the Modern Jazz Quartet, The Three Sounds, the Jazz Crusaders, and Joe Henderson all made recordings there. "The Lighthouse" sponsored an inter-collegiate jazz festival in the late-1950s, and the competition's winners included Mike Melvoin and Les McCann. John Levine died in 1970 and Rumsey left "The Lighthouse" in 1971 to open the "Concerts By The Sea" jazz club in nearby Redondo Beach. From the middle of the 1990s, jazz slowly began to come back to the club."
Here is a pic of my buddies in the band. Alex Smith - Drums, Michael Alvidrez - Bass, Brad Rabuchin - Guitar
Ryan Gosling from La La Land