Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Pepper Adams: Live at Room at the Top


Pepper Adams: Live at Room at the Top


Sign in to view read count
Pepper Adams: Live at Room at the Top
The late, great baritone saxophonist Park Frederick "Pepper" Adams III may be gone but he is certainly not forgotten, as Live at Room at the Top reveals in a spellbinding and blistering engagement documented but not released until now. Recorded at the University of Alberta Student Union at the Top, in September 1972, Adams and the Canadian rhythm section of pianist Tommy Banks, bassist Bobby Cairns and drummer Tom Doran delivered a scorching performance, including a host of relentless solo moments from the leader, in some of the finest shoulder-moving hard bop jazz one will ever hear.

The performance was unearthed by Reel to Real, the archival recording imprint of saxophonist Cory Weeds' Cellar Music Group which specializes in historically important and previously unreleased recordings. One sampling of this album is enough to conclude that Weeds and his group struck gold here. Adams was the antithesis of his contemporaries such as Gerry Mulligan and Serge Chaloff who played more of the Cool Jazz sound, while he favored the fast-paced hard bop style this album embraces.

Released as a double CD set, there are only seven tracks captured by Adams and the Tommy Banks Trio. However, it is quite obvious that the saxophonist and band truly immersed themselves in their playing considering that three tracks are close to eighteen-minutes long, with an additional two tracks bordering close to twenty-minutes in length; three tracks contain eleven-minutes of solos from the leader. No wonder two CDs were required to tape this date.

Though the music is primarily hard bop and fast-tempo such as the opening Thad Jones composition "Three and One," Adams was also known to have an affinity for ballads, as he demonstrates on the beautiful and warm-toned "Civilization and its Discontents," the only soft and mellow piece of the album; along with "Patrice" this is the only known live performances of these two originals. The shortest track, at a surprising two and a half minutes long, is the fiery "'Tis."

Also included here is a 27-page booklet with liner notes from author Gary Carner, Cory Weeds and Gary Smulyan providing interesting details and information about this jazz icon. Live at Room at the Top brings to life the music of a remarkable artist for a new generation of jazz lovers to hear, maybe for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Cory Weeds and the Reel to Real music Group.

Track Listing

Three And One; Civilization and its Discontents; Patrice; Oleo;'Tis


Pepper Adams
saxophone, baritone
Bobby Cairns
bass, electric
Tom Doran

Album information

Title: Live at Room at the Top | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Reel To Real



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Hills & Valleys
Stick Together
Behn Gillece
Friends & Neighbors
Unknown Rivers
Luke Stewart Silt Trio


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.