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Art Pepper and The Hollywood Allstars: Art Standards

C. Michael Bailey By

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Here is the sampler (and a fine one at that) from the box set...

From 1979 until his death in 1982, alto saxophonist Art Pepper, while still under contract to Galaxy, recorded for the small Japanese concern, Atlas, overtly as a sideman on a series of "All-Star" sessions, featuring a number of prominent West Coast musicians. I say overtly a sideman because covertly he was the undisputed leader on these dates. As Pepper's wife Laurie points out in the liner notes, Pepper was approached by Japanese producer Yasuyuki Ishihara who wanted him to lead a series of recordings that would reprise his beast work from the 1950s with the same personnel. These recordings were expected by Ishihara to sell well on the island. Pepper had the readily apparent problem that he was under exclusive contract, but still wanted to give Ishihara what he wanted. He was not so interested in covering old ground and so stipulated that he and his wife Laurie would choose the sidemen for the sessions. So, under the guise of sideman/leader, Pepper recorded seven releases for Atlas between 1979 and 1982. This assembly of Music was released under the Galaxy title Art Pepper—The Hollywood All-Star Sessions . Art Standards is the very clever sampler from these recordings.

Of special note in this collection is the inclusion of four recordings Pepper made with Sonny Stitt. Pepper had a great deal of respect for Stitt, as he expounded upon in his autobiography Straight Life. "Bernie’s Tune," "How High The Moon," "My Funny Valentine," and "Imagination" are all relaxed and swinging with none of the angst and anxiousness alluded to in Straight Life. This is superb alto saxophone Be Bop playing by both parties and sans Charlie Parker. If anything, Pepper puts a Coltrane slant on things. Also present are reprises with Jack Sheldon ("You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To") as well as introductions to Bill Watrous ("Begin The Beguine") and Lee Konitz ("S’wonderful"). This is not definitive Pepper, but it is at his most relaxed when we might think he had fun rather than feel as if he were putting it all on the line.


Track Listing: Begin The Beguine; You

Personnel: Bob Cooper: Sax (Alto); Lee Konitz: Sax (Alto); Milcho Leviev: Piano; Shelly Manne: Drums; Art Pepper: Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor); Sonny Stitt: Sax (Alto); John Heard: Bass; Pete Jolly: Piano; Lou Levy: Piano; Bill Watrous: Trombone; John Dentz: Drums; Monty Budwig: Bass; Chuck Domanico: Bass; Tony Dumas: Bass; Jack Sheldon: Trumpet; Roy McCurdy: Drums; Bob Magnusson: Bass.

Title: Art Standards | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Galaxy Music Group

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