Bassist and Leader of Legendary Lighthouse All Stars Howard Rumsey Dies, Aged 97

Howard Rumsey

by Matt Micucci

The great bassist Howard Rumsey passed away at the age of 97 of an unreported cause on July 15 in Newport Beach, Calif. Rumsey was best known as the band leader of the legendary Los Angeles group named Lighthouse All Stars.

Born in Brawley, Calif. on November 7, 1917, Rumsey studied piano and drums before shifting to double bass. In his early career he collaborated with musicians such as Charlie Barnet, Barney Bigard and, most prominently, performed as a member of Stan Kenton’s band from 1941.

After a short break from music, he landed a steady gig at the Lighthouse, a club in Hermosa Beach, in 1949. It was there that he soon put together the first line-up of the Lighthouse All Stars, that originally included such musicians as Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss and Hampton Hawes. The band remained active until the late fifties, served by more than 75 musicians and recording around a dozen albums for the Contemporary Records label. On at least one occasion in 1953, Rumsey and his group were joined on stage by Chet Baker and Miles Davis.

Throughout the seventies and eighties, he owned and operated a club known as Concerts by the Sea, in Redondo Beach, which was described as a distinctive club that provided an ideal tiered, concert-venue of 200 seats and offered the finest jazz in Los Angeles area.

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