Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

318

Art Pepper: Art Pepper: Blues for the Fisherman

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Art Pepper

Blues for the Fisherman

Widow's Taste

2011

Laurie Pepper has been the lightning rod for the music of her late husband, Art Pepper, since the saxophonist's death at 56 in 1982. She took proper control of his musical legacy in 1981 on the advice of the couple's accountant, transferring ownership of the saxophonist's works and contracts to the entity Arthur Pepper Music Inc., where, as intellectual assets, the corpus was protected from outside encroachment.

In 2006, Pepper founded Widow's Taste records, dedicated to releasing Art Pepper music previously unavailable commercially. These releases include the on-going Art Pepper: Unreleased Art series and the pirate/bootleg foiling release, Art Pepper: Jazz Showcase, Chicago (2010). The Unreleased Art series includes Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. I—The Complete Abashiri Concert: November 22, 1981; Unreleased Art, Vol. II—The Last Concert: May 30, 1982 Kool Jazz Festival Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; Unreleased Art, Vol. III—The Croydon Concert: May 14, 1981; The Art History Project: Unreleased Art Vol. IV; and Unreleased Art, Vol. V—Stuttgart May 25, 1981.

This series grows by one with the release of the four-disc Unreleased Art, Vol. VI—Blues for the Fisherman, providing, for the first time, Pepper's complete two- night appearance at Ronnie Scott's London, June 27 and 28, 1980. The history of these recordings rates an article itself. These sides were recorded by the owners of the local Mole Jazz Record Store, who were intent on starting their own recording label with with Art Pepper performances. Pepper's contract with Galaxy records prevented this music from being released under Pepper's name and further disallowed the release of any Pepper compositions previously recorded by Galaxy. Ultimately those performances able to be released were provided under pianist Milcho Leviev's name, Blues for the Fisherman (Mole, 1980) and True Blues (Mole, 1981). Not until now has the entire two evenings' four sets of music been released, making this a most important addition to the Art Pepper discography.

Blues for the Fisherman was recorded on the final two nights of a two week stretch booked at Ronnie Scott's between recording with pianist Pete Jolly on Strike Up the Band (Atlas, 1980) and Sonny Stitt on Groovin' High (Atlas, 1980). Pepper would then record the sides that would become his strings recording Winter Moon (Galaxy Records, 1980). Blues for the Fisherman joins two other extended post-comeback releases, The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions (Contemporary, 1977) and Pepper's Maiden Voyage appearances August 13-15, 1981, released on Roadgame: The Maiden Voyage Sessions, Volume 1 (Galaxy, 1981), Art Lives: The Maiden Voyage Sessions, Volume 2 (Galaxy, 1981), APQ: The Maiden Voyage Sessions, Volume 3 (Galaxy, 1981) and Arthur's Blues (Original Jazz Classics, 1981).

The four sets recorded over two evenings reflect Pepper's late period aesthetic of kicking things off with a mid- to up-tempo blues, typically introduced by an alto flourish followed by a driving walk in the double bass. These sets are no exception. All originals: "Blues for Blanche," "True Blues" and the twice played "Untitled #34" demonstrate, in microcosmal fashion, Pepper's compositional and performance paradoxes, his coexistent selfishness and generosity. Late in his life, Pepper preferred the quartet format over those implying a second horn. This was his prerogative. Like Beethoven, Pepper believed himself an artist and afforded himself that luxury. He wrote difficult and challenging charts and expected much from his sidemen. He rewarded them with praise and plenty of solo time. The result was this music.

Pepper's quartets with pianist Milcho Leviev were taut affairs driven by a not-quite- congruent meeting of two musical philosophies. Pepper, deep and earthy played a foil to Leviev's Eastern European classical approach. The results were always compelling if not transcendent. Both evenings featured Pepper's sublime ballad "Ophelia" and funky, R&B-saturated "Make a List." These are pieces closely associated with the saxophonist and two of his favorite improvisatory vehicles late in his performing career. "Make a List" proved beyond doubt that Pepper was capable of the most dirt-level organic playing and while these performances are excellent, they would be bettered to the point of definition on The Croydon Concert.

Pepper's first instrument was the clarinet, one he was more than capable of playing but left for the more glamorous alto saxophone. The clarinet also inspired a certain degree of controversy and anxiety in Pepper and those around him. Pepper's most notable clarinet performance was on Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's "Anthropology" originally released on the saxophonist's superb 1959 recording Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics. He performs "Anthropology" here with the preface that he did not often perform on clarinet. While this might be true, Pepper performed a searing version at the Village Vanguard in 1977 with bassist George Mraz playing a tight duet with the saxophonist. Where Pepper played an alto interlude at Ronnie Scott's, he played the rare tenor saxophone performance at the Vanguard. For all of his talk, "Anthropology" on clarinet, was always a treat.

Another blues Pepper played both nights was "Red Car" from Pepper's early comeback recording The Trip (Galaxy, 1976). Like "Make a List," "Red Car" revealed a heavy R&B-soul jazz element to his playing that proved him superior to David Sanborn and the like. Here, it sounds as if Pepper is having fun, turning out a rocking performance, something different than his typical hyper-emotional performance. Pepper was always fond of staid ballad's such as "Over the Rainbow" and "Goodbye." For his Ronnie Scott's dates, Pepper chose the latter and proceeded to show how nakedly and vulnerable he could play. Searing and corrosive, Pepper's ballads had no contemporary peer and certainly none today.

Having sworn to never play clarinet again, Pepper dished out a spry "In a Mellow Tone," a song he would reprise with his favorite pianist, George Cables, on his famous duet recording Going Home (Galaxy, 1982), his next to last studio release. Here he duets with bassist Tony Dumas to rousing acclaim. Pepper closes this two-week stay at Ronnie Scott's with the original "Blues for the Fisherman," whose title deserves the story in Laurie Pepper's liner notes. Originally released on Leviev's album by the same name, one reviewer commented that "Blues for the Fisherman" was "the twelve bars of the decade." So spare and fundamental is Pepper's approach—such as that on "Thank You Blues" from Art Lives: The Maiden Voyage Sessions, Volume 2 (Galaxy, 1981)—that all jazz sensibility is stripped out leaving only the blues in its most elemental ensemble form.

Elemental form...that is what Art Pepper was in for these performances. Halfway through his celebrated comeback, Pepper knew that his time was short and he took advantage of that time to make jazz that completely transcended his cool California roots, defining what the "jazz life" is all about. Blues for the Fisherman is a most important and essential set to the understanding of jazz, art, and how difficult it is the achieve the sublime.

Tracks: CD1: Blues for Blanche; Talk: Intros/Cat People; Ophelia; Talk: Thank you for coming; Make a List; Talk: Make a list; Sad a Little Bit; Talk: Clarinet; Anthropology; Red Car; Blues for Bould. CD2: Untitled #34; Talk: Weird Noise; Song for Richard; Talk: Rhythm-A-Ning; Rhythm-A-Ning; Talk: Rita San Intro; Rita San False Start; Rita San; What's New; I'll Remember April; Talk: Good Night. CD3: True Blues; Talk: Band & Ophelia Intro; Ophelia; Make a List; Stardust; Talk 3 out of 4; Red Car False Start; Red Car; Talk: About Straight Life; Straight Life. CD4: Untitled #34; Talk: Reminiscing; The Trip; Talk: Accident Prone; I'll Remember April; Talk: Goodbye Intro; Goodbye; In a Mellowtone; Talk: Clarinet, "Play the Blues;" Blues for the Fisherman + Talk: "I love you all."

Personnel: Art Pepper: alto saxophone, clarinet; Milcho Leviev: piano; Tony Dumas: bass; Carl Burnett: drums.

Title: Art Pepper: Blues for the Fisherman | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Unknown label

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Make a List (Make a Wish)

Make a List (Make a Wish)

Art Pepper
Unreleased Art: Vol. 3 Croyden

Album Reviews
Bailey's Bundles
Album Reviews
Bailey's Bundles
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Building a Jazz Library
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Extended Analysis
Bailey's Bundles
Hardly Strictly Jazz
Multiple Reviews
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
The Art Pepper Quartet

The Art Pepper Quartet

Omnivore Recordings
2017

buy
Unreleased Art: Volume 9  - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At Donte's, April...

Unreleased Art:...

Widow's Taste
2016

buy
Unreleased Art: Volume 9 - Art Pepper & Warne Marsh At Donte's, April...

Unreleased Art:...

Widow's Taste
2016

buy
Art Pepper: Art Pepper Live at Fat Tuesday’s

Art Pepper: Art...

Elemental Music
2015

buy

Related Articles

Read Greatest Other People's Hits Extended Analysis
Greatest Other People's Hits
By Doug Collette
September 9, 2018
Read Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967 Extended Analysis
Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967
By Doug Collette
September 8, 2018
Read Naima/Live in Berlin Extended Analysis
Naima/Live in Berlin
By Duncan Heining
August 30, 2018
Read Kaya 40 Extended Analysis
Kaya 40
By Nenad Georgievski
August 25, 2018
Read Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
By Doug Collette
August 4, 2018
Read Wodgi Extended Analysis
Wodgi
By Duncan Heining
August 4, 2018
Read In Memory of Lou Gare Extended Analysis
In Memory of Lou Gare
By Duncan Heining
August 3, 2018