40 Year Old Bitches, New MilesTones & Others, Too
The "encore," recorded at an earlier show, begins with a cover of Frank Zappa's reflective, almost floating waltz melody "Blessed Relief" ("Frank Zappa was such an influential musician in so many ways, and I don't think he's been given the treatment he deserves," says Alfredson) and ends with a hefty slice (18:40) of the band's signature fatback groove "Pumpkin Pie," which Marsh kicks out just behind the beat to spice up its undercrust with that sassy New Orleans party feeling.
Unreleased Art Vol. 5: Stuttgart May 25, 1981
Recorded during a European tour by Pepper's "comeback quartet" with drummer Carl Burnett, bassist Bob Magnusson and pianist Milcho Leviev, Unreleased Art Vol. 5: Stuttgart May 25, 1981 is a genuine labor of love: Not only the performers' love of music but also the devotion of this alto saxophonist's fans, who sent their own recordings of this date to Pepper's widow, Laurie, who turned them over to producer Wayne Peet for remastering and sequencing into this two-disc set.
The leader aside, Pepper's support trio is one hell of a band; led by Leviev's sympathetic piano and Magnusson's sensitive bass, they play with all the intuitive communication of the great pianist Bill Evans' trios. Leviev unravels the melodic threads of the opening "True Blues" like he's untying a musical knot, then steps aside for the bassist's expressive soliloquy. Piano and bass interludes in "Over the Rainbow" are just as lovely, and their undercarriage to "Yours is My Heart Alone" floats like a soft Brazilian breeze.
But don't put the leader aside. Pepper demonstrates remarkable ability to exercise his alto sax in many different styles and sounds (not to mention his spotlight on clarinet, Al Jolson's "Avalon," which he pours out as crisp and dry as a Benny Goodman martini). "Straight Life," Pepper's most recognized tune (and the title of his compelling autobiography), sets up a modern jazz steeplechase and demonstrates Sonny Rollins' gravitational pull on Pepper, whose solo emerges from fragments of phrases that he geometrically builds into larger lines and shapes. Pepper ends this set with "Cherokee," one of his favorite workouts and concert closers. At first, he lightly glides as if ice skating on the rhythm, but then his alto grows more and more fractured, strafing the rhythm with scalding staccato runs, the consuming conceptual fires of Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman.
Pepper and Leviev aim this 24-minute version of Pepper's "Make a List (Make a Wish" toward a completely different destination, the classic soul-jazz that saxophonist Eddie Harris recorded with pianist Les McCann. Leviev digs up from his lower register a simple but potent piano groove that sounds like both dirty and gospel blues, slamming down piano behind Pepper's freewheeling alto like a throaty beer chaser.
Tracks and Personnel
Who is This America?
Tracks: Who is This America Dem Speak of Today?; Pay Back Africa; Indictment; Big Man; Obanla'e; Elephant; Sister; Money Talks.
Personnel: Amayo: lead vocals, percussion; Ernesto Abreu: congas, lead vocals; Victor Axelrod: electric piano, organ, clavinet; Phillip Ballman: drums; Stuart Bogie: tenor saxophone; Dylan Fusillo: percussion; Aaron Johnson: trombone; Jordan McLean: trumpet; Nick Movshon: bass; Luke O'Malley: guitar; Martin Perna: baritone saxophone; Gabriel Roth: guitar; Del Stribling: bass; Fernando Velez: congas; Geoff Mann: shakere; Tom Brenneck: guitar; Alex Kadvan: cello; Entcho Todorov: violin; Mayra Vega: background vocals; Oguga Iwelu: background vocals; U Poppa Dobi: background vocals; Qua Toporovsky: background vocals; Veronica Cuevas: background vocals; Babatunde Adebimpe: background vocals.
Bitches Brew 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition
Tracks: CD1: Pharoah's Dance; Bitches Brew; Spanish Key; John McLaughlin. CD2: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down; Sanctuary; Spanish Key (Alternate Take); John McLaughlin (Alternate Take); Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (Stereo Single); Spanish Key (Stereo Single); Great Expectations (Mono Single); Little Blue Frog (Mono Single). CD3: Directions; Bitches Brew; The Mask; It's About That Time; Sanctuary; Spanish Key/The Theme; Miles Runs the Voodoo Down. DVD: Copenhagen Live 1969: Directions; Miles Runs the Voodoo Down; Bitches Brew; Agitation; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Sanctuary; It's About That Time; The Theme.