The superb compilation West Coast 1945-1947 brings together various studio and live radio broadcasts from bop jazz trumpeter Howard McGhee. Born in Tulsa and raised in Detroit, McGhee was a powerhouse bop trumpeter in the vein of Fats Navarro and Dizzy Gillespie. He was also a melodicist, which meant that he was capable of soloing with both dazzling technical proficiency and gorgeous romantic lyricism. One of the few bop musicians to relocate to California during the '40s, McGhee even backed Charlie Parker on some Dial sessions during the saxophonist's West Coast tour at about the same time he made the recordings featured here. First, we get a complete live broadcast of McGhee's sextet recorded at the Streets of Paris nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard in December of 1945. Recorded with a single mike, the audio is quite clear and really captures the noir-ish postwar mood of early bop sessions, especially McGhee's uniquely arranged take on Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." Second, we get a handful of sides McGhee's group made for the Philo and Melodisc labels, including a stellar take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and a few high-energy originals. Ultimately, the tracks on West Coast 1945-1947 work as a revelatory snapshot of McGhee's underappreciated talent.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar