Formed: 1949 in Hermosa Beach, CA
Styles: Bop Cool, West Coast Jazz
Bassist Howard Rumsey initiated a jazz policy at the Lighthouse Cafe' in Hermosa Beach, CA, in 1949. His Lighthouse All-Stars performed on a nightly basis and on Sundays, there was traditionally a 12-hour jam session. The Contemporary label recorded Rumsey's groups on a fairly regular basis during 1952-1957 and 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 music was essentially bebop with some cooler-toned performances, particularly the ones starring Cooper on oboe or English horn and Shank on flute. The Lighthouse All-Stars only made one record after 1957 (an outing for Philips during 1961-1962) before passing into history. In the 1980s, the group was revived for some appearances and further Contemporary recordings; the last version featured Shorty Rogers, Cooper (after Coop's death Jack Nimitz took his place), Shank, Bill Perkins, Pete Jolly, Monty Budwig, and Larance Marable.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
In early 1949, Rumsey was in search of a playing job and came across the Lighthouse Club on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, which he felt would be an ideal place to play music. The Lighthouse was built in 1934 as a restaurant named Verpilates. In 1940, the business changed hands, and under new ownership it was turned into a Polynesian-styled club named the Lighthouse, primarily serving merchant seamen. In 1948 the club was sold to John Levine. After convincing Levine to permit the playing of jazz in the club, Rumsey played his first show on Sunday 29 May 1949, to immediate success.
The first Lighthouse All-Stars was a group made up of Los Angeles musicians who had been a part of the Central Avenue scene in the 1940s, including Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss, Hampton Hawes, Frank Patchen, Bobby White and Keith Williams. This band lasted for a time before Rumsey changed personnel to feature a new wave of players. The second edition of the Lighthouse All-Stars featured Jimmy Giuffre, Shorty Rogers, and Shelly Manne. The success of this group soon landed them with a recording contract for Les Koenig's Contemporary Records. Not only were the Lighthouse All-Stars recording for Contemporary, but many of the members of the group were also leading sessions for this same label.
After Rogers, Giuffre and Manne left together in 1953 for a job at The Haig, Rumsey had to recreate his band yet again. This third edition featured Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Rolf Ericsson and Max Roach. This band took part in a historic recording on 13 September 1953, Roach's first show with the group, which would feature both Chet Baker and Miles Davis, along with Russ Freeman and Lorraine Geller.
With the eventual breakup of this edition, the chairs were filled by various other notable musicians throughout the following years. In his book West Coast Jazz, author Ted Gioia claims to have listed over seventy-five musicians who were once members of the group. By the early 1960s interest in jazz in Los Angeles had greatly faded and the group came to its demise.
From 1971 to 1985, Rumsey owned and operated Concerts by the Sea in Redondo Beach, California, a "distinctive club that provided an ideal tiered, concert-seating venue (seating 200) which offered the finest jazz in the Los Angeles area."