Art Pepper: Two Previously Unreleased and Outstanding Albums
Pepper's renaissance performances, particularly those from the 1970s (and in particular at The Village Vanguard) were characterized by cathartic explosions of pathos. The experience for Pepper and audience alike was akin to a "burning bush experience. By the time of the Abashiri Concert, Pepper had relaxed into a more comfortable performance, but still accented with emotive intensity, as in his second solo on "Road Waltz. This working quartet was the one best suited to Pepper, header by his "Mr. Beautiful George Cables and pinned down with bassist David Williams and another Pepper favorite, drummer Carl Burnett. The group's simpatico is palpable, perhaps reaching a critical mass of cooperation that Pepper had never enjoyed previously. That alone makes this unreleased material such a special gift.
Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Volume 2 - The Last Concert May 30, 1982 Kool Jazz Festival Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
Pepper's last recorded performance took place on May 30, 1982 at the Kool Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. Before taking the stage, Pepper understood that he had 70 minutes during which to perform. He and his wife Laurie, per their habit, discussed the pieces to be performed before the show. Through a miscommunication, Pepper was allowed only 60 minutes in which to perform. Disappointed and angry, he nevertheless performed brilliantly. In his late creative period, Pepper would play as if every performance was to be his last one. This time it was.
The recording is acceptablewith the caveats that the piano and saxophone are a bit behind the drums and bass in the mixas the performance was being prepared for broadcast over the Voice Of America. By this time Cables, Pepper's favorite pianist, had left for a job with Sarah Vaughan and Laurie Pepper selected the very successful Roger Kellaway to replace him. Kellaway had more in common with Pepper pianist Milcho Leviev than Cables, providing an interesting contrast. The performance opens with the Pepper original "Landscape, a favorite vehicle for the saxophonist after he introduced it into his book in 1979. The piece well illustrates Pepper's affinity for complex charts. Everyone solos, Pepper and bassist David Williams being the most compelling. Kellaway has a shaky start, working out the kinks as the song warms.
The Last Concert includes plenty of Pepper stage banter in his introduction to his "Ophelia. This mid-tempo ballad, full of life and breath, is the product of a superb jazz mind that gives his compositions an immediate ambience that can only be defined as jazz. Forget genre and subgenre. "Ophelia accomplishes for Pepper what "Pilgrimage did for the late Michael Brecker 25 years laterthe music saying, "this is what jazz is all about.
"Mambo Koyama, another Pepper original, possesses a complex Latin head that put the saxophonist years ahead of the Latin jazz resurgence of the mid-1990s. Pepper blows his heart out in solo, playing long convoluted lines after the staccato introductory passage. The song evolves into a soul jazz-inspired serenade with waves of crescendos. Pepper follows the white-hot with the ballad-cool, playing one of his favorite concert pieces, "Over The Rainbow. Playing with the quartet and not solo, as he often did, Pepper made his impassioned plea sincerely, as he always did when playing this song.
The final song, "When You're Smiling, Pepper played on clarinet and dedicated to saxophonist Zoot Sims, whom he had known in the old days. The song opens as a duet with Williams just as Pepper had done with his Village Vanguard "Anthropology and bassist George Mraz. Like saxophonist Lester Young, Pepper never over did it on clarinet, but when he did play the instrument, it was magic. Kellaway turns in his most inspiring performance of the show, going well over the top and dragging the band with him. There is no more fitting way to remember Art Pepper than this performance of "When You're Smiling. It is so good that there is more to come.
Tracks and Personnel
Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Volume 1
Tracks: Landscape; Besame Mucho; Red Car; Goodbye; Straight Life; Road Waltz; For Freddie (part 1); For Freddie (part 2); Body And Soul; Talk; Rhythm-A-Ning; Blues Encore (inc.).
Personnel: Art Pepper: alto saxophone; George Cables: piano; David Williams: bass; Carl Burnett: drums.
Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Volume 2
Tracks: Landscape; Talk; Ophelia; Talk; Mambo Koyama; Over The Rainbow; Talk; When You're Smiling.
Personnel: Art Pepper: alto saxophone; Roger Kellaway: piano; David Williams: bass; Carl Burnett: drums.