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Dave Pell loves playing classic jazz charts, but with a decidedly West Coast cool.

September 08, 2000|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When the West Coast jazz scene flourished in 1950s Los Angeles, most major artists favored original compositions, such as Gerry Mulligan with "Walking Shoes" and "Line for Lyons" or Shorty Rogers with "Martians Go Home." But not tenor saxophonist Dave Pell.

"I wanted to build my audience by doing standards, playing tunes like 'Have You Met Miss Jones' and 'Mountain Greenery,' with that nice West Coast cool sound," said Pell, a vital 75-year-old, whose band was the Dave Pell Octet.

Pell's premise worked like mad. The octet was one of the most popular bands of the '50s. Armed with swinging arrangements by the best writers in Los Angeles, Marty Paich, Bill Holman and Rogers among them, Pell's octet performed extensively at jazz clubs and colleges.

"We played proms at schools all over the West," said Pell, whose 30 octet albums include such titles as "Prom to Prom."

The octet faded in 1961, about the same time the Los Angeles jazz scene did. There have been a couple of revivals, one of which is taking place right now. Pell and such local jazz aces as trumpeter Carl Saunders, baritone saxophonist Bob Efford and drummer Dick Weller are playing each Friday at the Paradise Cafe at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood.

"We're having a ball," said Pell, who has a few octet albums in print, including 1956's "I Had the Craziest Dream" and 1988's "Live at Alfonse's." "These 50-year-old charts have a charm about them that's unbelievable."

In Brief: Trombonist Mike Fahn offers invigorating standards Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Rocco, 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air, (310) 475-9807.

Drummer Matt Wilson, who can play bebop to avant-garde and remain authentic, performs at Rocco on Thursday for a two-night stand with a group that includes saxophonists-clarinetists Jeff Lederer and Andrew D'Angelo. He plays Thursday at 9 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. $10.

BE THERE

Dave Pell Octet plays tonight at 6 at the Paradise Cafe, Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, 4224 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood. No cover, no minimum. Call (818) 985-6567.

Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at Zansky@AOL.com.

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