Drummer Shelly Manne's first sessions for Contemporary contain plenty of definitive examples of West Coast jazz. This CD has four titles apiece from a 1953 septet date with altoist Art Pepper, Bob Cooper on tenor, baritonist Jimmy Giuffre, and valve trombonist Bob Enevoldsen, four from a few months later with Bud Shank in Pepper's place, and four other songs from 1955 when Manne headed a septet with altoist Joe Maini and Bill Holman on tenor in addition to Giuffre and Enevoldsen. With arrangements by Marty Paich (who plays piano on the first two dates), Giuffre, Shorty Rogers, Bill Russo, Holman, and Enevoldsen, the music has plenty of variety yet defines the era, ranging from Russo's "Sweets" (a tribute to trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison), Giuffre's "Fugue," and the Latin folk tune "La Mucura" to updated charts on older swing tunes. Highly recommended and proof (if any is really needed) that West Coast jazz was far from bloodless.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow