Marty Paich and Art Pepper: Moanin' vs + Eleven

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Marty Paich (1925-1995) was the West Coast Tadd Dameron. He had a perfect swing and be bop arranging temperament. Paich was a superb pianist and a better arranger, being called upon to orchestrate for Chet Baker, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and Art Pepper. It was with Art Pepper that Paich would forge a most creatively generous relationship, which would yield not one but two masterpieces in 1959.

Art Pepper (1925-1982) was the brilliant and beautiful alto saxophonist who recorded widely in the 1950s, '70s, and '80s while taking the better part of the 1960s off in drug rehabilitation and prison. During the better part of 1959, Pepper and Paich collaborated on a series of big band recordings that resulted in Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics and The Marty Paich Big Band—Moanin'. Marty Paich was responsible for the arrangements for both sets of recordings and Art Pepper held down the alto saxophone chair on both sets. Both recordings employed many of the players making these recordings worth a comparison.

Moanin' is actually the assembly of two Marty Paich big band albums originally released on Warner Brothers, The Broadway Bit (WB1296, 1959/Discovery 844) and I Get a Boot Out of You (WB1349, 1959/Discovery 829, 1959). These both were combined and released on the current disc (Discovery 962, 1989). The former was recorded at a session in Los Angles in January and the latter also in Los Angles in June and July. Just for perspective, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics was recorded in three sessions on March 14th, March 28th, and May 12th. Thus, the famous + Eleven was conceived and committed to tape between the two sessions comprising Moanin'. The result is perfection.

However, Moanin' is not + Eleven. The two recordings and differ most greatly in repertoire. Moanin' is a collection of swing era tunes seasoned with some hard bop. + Eleven is a collection of compositions resulting from the heyday of the Be Bop era. The former is heavy on Duke Ellington, the latter on Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. The two discs have a very potent similarity in Paich's arrangements. Marty Paich approached his big band arrangements with a combination of Claude Thornhill (and, by proxy, Gil Evans) and Count Basie. Like the Thornhill band and Miles Davis' Nonet, Paich liked employing French horns with a saxophone army underneath. This affords a very plush sound that can still have a Basie riff bite when necessary.

Where + Eleven is equally Paich's and Pepper's, Moanin' is exclusively Paich's. He runs the show, part of the time from piano, at which is more than capable, but like Tadd Dameron, is self-effacing of his talent. He provides his best soloists a perfect environment for their talent. Therefore, Art Pepper, Jack Sheldon, and Bill Perkins are afforded ample solo space, with the backdrop appropriate to each of them. So, if this listener is looking for a continuation of + Eleven , he will and will not find it in Moanin'. But don't let that paradox stop you from seeking out this disc. Worrying about whether Moanin' or + Eleven is better is as silly fruitless as arguing which band is better Ellington or Basie. Both—Both are perfect.


More Articles

Read Miles Davis v. Wynton Marsalis: Jack Johnson in Jazz Compare & Contrast Miles Davis v. Wynton Marsalis: Jack Johnson in Jazz
by Michael Holman
Published: March 8, 2005
Read Condon's Mobs: Wild Bill Davison & Bud Freeman Compare & Contrast Condon's Mobs: Wild Bill Davison & Bud Freeman
by Nic Jones
Published: December 20, 2004
Read Charlie Rouse: Hail The Individual Compare & Contrast Charlie Rouse: Hail The Individual
by Nic Jones
Published: October 1, 2004
Read Rendell-Carr & Keith Tippett: Ever Increasing Circles Compare & Contrast Rendell-Carr & Keith Tippett: Ever Increasing Circles
by Nic Jones
Published: September 1, 2004
Read Marty Paich and Art Pepper:  Moanin' vs + Eleven Compare & Contrast Marty Paich and Art Pepper: Moanin' vs + Eleven
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 28, 2004
Read Ellen Christi: Diverse Materials Compare & Contrast Ellen Christi: Diverse Materials
by Nic Jones
Published: July 15, 2004
Read "Albert We Hardly Knew Ye" Multiple Reviews Albert We Hardly Knew Ye
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Three saxophonists very different paths since "Propagations"" Multiple Reviews Three saxophonists very different paths since "Propagations"
by John Eyles
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Roland Kirk: Here Comes The Whistleman" Profiles Roland Kirk: Here Comes The Whistleman
by Duncan Heining
Published: October 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!