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Album Review

Pepper Adams and the Tommy Banks Trio: Live at Room at the Top

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Pepper Adams and the Tommy Banks Trio: Live at Room at the Top
In a foreword by Jim Merod to Gary Carner's biography of Pepper Adams "Reflectory: The Life and Music of Pepper Adams," he describes Adams as follows: "Pepper was essentially alone in his magnificent command of his big horn's imposing challenges. He set a standard for its lyric power and boisterous allure."

In this double LP 180 gram vinyl release by Reel To Real Records, Live at Room At The Top , Adams demonstrates his creative power and high level of musicianship throughout the live recording.

While the focus here is the music, a few brief comments are necessary to put the performance in context. A very detailed and informative booklet on all aspects of the performance and performers is included with this release. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in September 1972 was a sleepy provincial capital with a population of about 440,000. Adams, at the time, was anchoring the saxophone section of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. He agreed to play four concerts over a ten-day period at The University of Alberta Students Union, Room at the Top, capacity 75, for $100 per concert and the price of admission was C$1.50. Great things often arise from small beginnings.

Although Pepper Adams might not be considered a prolific composer, he nevertheless wrote some forty-three compositions , two of which "Civilization And Its Discontents" and "Patrice" are part of this session. The other important tracks are Sonny Rollins's "Oleo" and the Thad Jones number "Three And One." It should be remembered that Adams was a prodigious improviser. He prized originality and he played melodically. In three of the previously noted numbers "Patrice," "Oleo" and "Three," Adams solos for over eleven minutes in each without seeming to repeat a note or a phrase. Adams was not a big man, yet he was able to carry this large instrument around his neck for long periods and still play with power and intensity.

The Canadian rhythm section of pianist Tommy Banks, electric bassist Bobby Cairns and drummer Tom Doran hung in admirably with Adams although their solo space was limited. Banks went on to lead a well-known Canadian big band, host a TV variety program, and after retirement from music was appointed to the Senate of Canada. In 1991, he was awarded the Order Of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour for his contribution to the arts.

The source of this material is that intrepid music executive and saxophonist Cory Weeds. His dogged persistence and social media research turned up these tapes which may be the first of several other releases over the months ahead.

Track Listing

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

Personnel

Pepper Adams: saxophone, baritone; Tommy Banks: piano; Bobby Cairns: bass, electric; Tom Doran: drums.

Album information

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

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