Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Vol. 1 & 2


Sign in to view read count

Art Pepper
Unreleased Art, Vol. 1: The Complete Abashiri Concert (Nov. 22, 1981)
Widow's Taste

Art Pepper
Unreleased Art, Vol. 2: The Last Concert (May 30, 1982), Kool Jazz Festival
Widow's Taste

Art Pepper's widow, Laurie (his third and final wife), started the Widow's Taste label to give more of the saxophonist/clarinetist to his fans and to introduce him to those as yet uninitiated. Pepper passed away 26 years ago this month after what was arguably one of the rougher lives in jazz. The first two volumes of this new archival series, representing two performances from the last year of his life, speak to an apparent cache of fantastic material awaiting release.

Volume 1, a concert in Abashiri, Japan from late 1981, features one of the best, by his own admission, rhythm sections Pepper ever employed: pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams and drummer Carl Burnett. The performance brims with varying emotion and intensity, a particularly invigorating moment occurring as the band kicks into high gear on an airtight version of "Besame Mucho." However, the chief highlight, one among many, is undoubtedly the heartbreaking rendition of "Body and Soul," which also boasts one of Cables' beautiful solos: Few could make a ballad work like Art Pepper and "Mr. Beautiful" is with him on every gesture. The Japanese audience is more than exuberant as the quartet closes out the show with a spicy take on Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning." There is some minor cassette hiss and "Landscapes" is incomplete, but these are minor drawbacks to a major document.

Back on US soil for Volume 2, Pepper embarked on a tour in the spring of 1982 that culminated at Washington's Kennedy Center as part of the Kool Jazz Festival. This, his last concert, was taped by Voice of America days before his hospitalization and death, but one hears no trace of illness. The audience is even more involved than was the Japanese crowd as Pepper lopes through the silkily powerful "Ophelia." Roger Kellaway fills the piano chair admirably, even if his occasional forays into free jazz territory seem forced. His entrance on "When You're Smiling" is especially tasty as he backs Pepper on clarinet; the energy builds almost to breaking point, subsides and builds again, as effective on record as it must have been in the hall.

The patter that informs Pepper's later discs is abundant throughout the two volumes and he is charming rather than caustic. He dedicates "When You're Smiling" to Zoot Sims and though the ecstatic audience yells for more, it was not to be. Still, fans are lucky to have these vibrant recordings. The sound is never less than acceptable and usually very crisp and clear. If the first two volumes provide any indication of things to come, this series should be dynamite!

Tracks and Personnel

Unreleased Art, Vol. 1: The Complete Abashiri Concert (Nov. 22, 1981)

Tracks: Landscape; Besame Mucho; Red Car; Goodbye; Straight Life; Road Waltz; For Freddie (part 1); For Freddie; Body and Soul; Talk Rhythm-A-Ning; Blues Encore (inc.).

Personnel: Art Pepper: sax; George Cables: piano; David Williams: bass; Carl Burnett: drums.

Unreleased Art, Vol. 2: The Last Concert (May 30, 1982), Kool Jazz Festival

Tracks: Landscape; Talk; Ophelia; Talk; Mambo Koyama; Over the Rainbow; Talk; When You're Smiling.

Personnel: Art Pepper: sax; Roger Kellaway: piano; David Williams: bass; Carl Burnett: drums.

Post a comment


View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon


Tales From The Jacquard
Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra
Pamai Chirdkiatisak
Music Room 1985
Wayne Krantz
Berta Moreno Afro-Jazz Soul Project
Roni Ben-Hur
Nikol Bókóva
Noah Preminger


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.