Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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West Coast jazz.

A substyle of Bop, serving as a continuation of the preceding Cool jazz substyle among predominantly white musicians based in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1950s. Miles Davis’s nonet recordings of 1949–50, collected together under the rubric of the ‘Birth of the Cool’, were particularly influential on the West Coast players. These were less distinguished improvisers than Davis, with the notable exception of Art Pepper, and therefore came to rely on a formulaic approach in which group arrangements tended to be more interesting than individual solos. The style also suffered from its reliance on a small circle of studio musicians (headed by Shorty Rogers), whose appearance in various combinations gave the music a certain sameness. Perhaps its most innovative contributions came in the small group performances involving Shelly Manne (on his album The Three, 1954, Cont.) and Jimmy Guiffre, who while working essentially in a bop-derived idiom, also explored ideas that prefigured some of the more delicate qualities of free jazz. Despite the fact that a few important black-American players, most notably Hampton Hawes, were deeply involved in the style, its consideration raises politically charged issues: it is difficult to disentangle West Coast jazz from the notoriously racist policies of the Hollywood studios, in which environment many of its practitioners worked.


W. Claxton: Jazz West Coast: a Portfolio of Photographs (Hollywood, CA, 1955)

R. Gordon: Jazz West Coast: the Los Angeles Jazz Scene of the 1950s (London and New York, 1986) [incl. bibliography and discography]

T. Gioia: West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945–1960 (New York, 1992) [incl. discography]


Westcote [Westcott], Sebastian

(b Chumleigh, Devon, c1520; d London, 3–14 April 1582). English church musician and theatrical impresario. He signed his name ‘Westcote’. In his will he gave ‘Chimley in the countie of Devon’ as his birthplace; however, as a Catholic layman he cannot be identified with the stipendiary priest of that name recorded at Chumleigh in about 1541. It is possible that he may have been the Sebastian Westcote who appears as a yeoman of the king’s chamber in Henry VIII’s household in 1545. In October 1547 he appears for certain as one of the six lay vicars-choral of St Paul’s Cathedral, London; by Christmas 1548 he had achieved, in addition, appointment as Master of the Choristers, an office in which he had probably served since the death of John Redford in autumn 1547. Throughout his life he remained a stout adherent to traditional religious belief and it was not until 1 February 1554, following the restoration of Catholicism by Mary I, that he received formal appointment by the chapter as Master of the Choristers. In 1557 he made to the queen a New Year’s gift of ‘a book of ditties’.

The return to Protestantism under Elizabeth I left him open to censure for his obstinacy in imbuing his choristers in Catholic belief; he was soon in trouble with the episcopal authorities and finally, unable to subscribe to the Thirty-Eight Articles, he was deprived of his place as a vicar-choral in 1563 or 1564. His name appears on no subsequent list and it was as ‘late one of the vicars’ that he received in 1569 a bequest from his sometime colleague the composer William Whytbroke. Nevertheless, he retained his entirely separate appointment as Master of the Choristers and continued to exercise it until his death. He died in office in April 1582. During his long career a number of future composers received from him their initial musical education as choristers of St Paul’s, including Peter Phillips, Robert Knight and Nicholas Carlton.

The successive vernacular Books of Common Prayer, in use from 1549 to 1553 and from 1559 onwards, reduced the number of services to be attended by cathedral choristers from ten per day to three. Westcote proved adept at using the spare time to mount theatrical productions – plays with music – presented by the boys. An early endeavour was presented before Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield House during the festivities following Christmas 1551 and, after her accession in 1558, dramatic performances at court by the ‘Children of Paul’s’ made Westcote a firm favourite of the queen. Indeed, it is doubtless to her influence that he owed his relative immunity from persecution, despite his open and unrepentant papistry. From 1575 at the latest Westcote was presenting his choristers as a troupe of professional actors, performing to the public on a commercial basis in their own playhouse near to the cathedral. So gross and opportunistic an abuse of the talents and training of church choristers could only have been possible under the neglectful stewardship of the dean Alexander Nowell. Ironically, and irrespective of his capacities as a musician, it is for his second-string role as inadvertently a seminal figure in the London commercial theatre that Westcote is now most remembered.


H.N. Hillebrand: The Child Actors: a Chapter in Elizabethan Stage History (Urbana, IL, 1926/R)

A. Brown: ‘Three Notes on Sebastian Westcott’, Modern Language Review, xliv (1949), 229–32

A. Brown: ‘A Note on Sebastian Westcott and the Plays presented by the Children of Paul’s’, Modern Language Quarterly, xii (1951), 134–6

A. Brown: ‘Sebastian Westcott at York’, Modern Language Review, xlvii (1952), 49–50

T. Lennam: Sebastian Westcott, the Children of Paul’s and ‘The Marriage of Wit and Science’ (Toronto, 1975)

W.R. Gair: The Children of Paul’s: the Story of a Theatre Company, 1553–1608 (Cambridge, 1982)

M. Shapiro: ‘The Children of Paul’s and their Play-House’, Theatre Notebook, xxxvi (1982), 3–13

L.P. Austern: Music in English Children’s Drama of the Later Renaissance (Philadelphia, 1992)


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