The State of Jazz Reissues 2009: Miles Davis and Art Pepper
Intensely interesting in this collection are the pieces included on the second disc ("Hard Art"). Pepper endured several lengthy jails stays in the 1960s. During the period after his release from prison in 1964, he assembled a band to perform locally. His Contemporary producer, Lester Koenig, while uninterested in Pepper's current musical direction, allowed the band to practice in the Contemporary studios. These "practice" performances were captured on tape, marked for erasure by Koenig. By our good fortune, they survived to provide that connecting bridge between Pepper's early cool playing and his later Gotterdammerung.
While in prison, Pepper came under the considerable spell of John Coltrane. This influence is richly evident in "That Crazy Blues" and "Chelsea Bridge." This is not the best Art Pepper, but it does shine a light on what was to come for the saxophonist creatively after his 1972 comeback, music from which is included on the third disc, ("Consummate Art"). Some of this material has been previously released on small labels, but in fall 2009 are out of print. "Caravan," recorded in Yamagata Japan is a searing example of Pepper's mature performance style, full of urgency and apocalypse. Included as a coda are two unreleased performances ("Landscape" and "Mambo Koyama") recorded at New York City's Fat Tuesday two months prior to Pepper's death.
It was this show and this Art Pepper that Village Voice critic Gary Giddins paid homage to in his June 1982 obituary for the saxophonist, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage that month. Wrote Giddins, "[Pepper] was living on borrowed time, and he knew it. You could hear it in every note he played...it was part of [his] art that he didn't let you take anything for granted. His solos were a series of small victories. You paid for them, couldn't turn your heard from them."
Laurie Pepper has generously provided us with an ear to the whiteness of the wail, the Consummate Art.
Visit Art Pepper on the web.
Tracks and Personnel
The Classic Prestige Sessions 1951-1956
Tracks: CD1: Morpheus; Down; The Blue RoomThe Blue Room; Whispering; Know; Conception; Out Of The Blue; Denial; Bluing; Dig; My Old Flame; It's Only A Paper Moon. CD2 Compulsion; The Serpent's Tooth; [Take 1]; The Serpent's Tooth; [Take 2] 'Round Midnight; Airegin; Oleo; But Not For Me; [Take 1]; But Not For Me; [Take 2] Doxy In Your Own Sweet Way; No Line; Vierd Blues.
Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet (except CD1 #6); Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone (except CD1 #4). CD1 #1-5: Bennie Green: trombone; John Lewis: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Roy Haynes: drums. CD1 #6: Miles Davis: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Roy Haynes: drums. CD1 #7-13: Jackie McLean: alto saxophone; Walter Bishop, Jr.: piano; Tommy Potter: bass; art Blakey: drums. CD2 #1-4: Charlie Parker: tenor saxophone; Walter Bishop, Jr.: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums. CD2 #5-9: Horace Silver: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Kenny Clarke: drums. CD2 #10-12: Tommy Flanagan: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Art Taylor: Drums.
The Art History Project: Unreleased Art IV
Tracks: CD1 (Pure Art 1951-1960): Art Pepper; Fascinatin' Rhythm; Patricia; Tickle Toe; Pepper Returns; Mambo de la Pinta; These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You); Cool Bunny; Besame Mucho; Art's Oregano; Diane; I Can't Believe That You Are In Love With Me; Straight Life; Everything Happens to Me; Nutmeg; What's New; Begin the Beguine. CD2 (Hard Art 1960-1968): Rehearsal; So In Love; Talk; That Crazy Blues; D Section; Chelsea Bridge. CD3 (Consummate Art 1975-1982): Caravan; Lost Life; Landscape; Angel Wings; Historiade un Amor; Mambo Koyama; That's Love.