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Art Pepper: Renascence

C. Michael Bailey By

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More Live Pepper.

The last ten years has seen a significant trickle of previously unissued or limited issued Art Pepper live music. The most recent include:

  • Tokyo Debut (Galaxy 4201, 1989)
  • Art Pepper with Duke Jordan in Copenhagen 1981 (Galaxy 8201, 1981)
  • Art 'N Zoot (Pablo 2310, 1995)

 Now showing up is Renascence, a recording made at the famous West Coast club, The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay, California. Recorded on September 28, 1975, this concert represents one of Pepper's first live performances following the recording of his comeback album, Living Legend (Contemporary 7633 / OJC 408) in August of the same year. Pepper sound as if he has never been away. He does sound remarkably different from his late 1950s recording. Prison and John Coltrane loom large in this come back music. Renascence sports only the second time Pepper recorded Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait", previously only heard on his recording with Duke Jordan in Copenhagen. Pepper can be heard as almost anti-Be Bop with his jagged stops and starts and his over-the-top phrasing.

Pepper plays with a pick up band of local musicians one of whom, drummer Brad Bilhorn, performed with him later at the club, a concert captured on Art Pepper: A Night in Tunisia (Storeyville 4146, 1977). While everyone performs competently, the listener must silently query what would have happened if Pepper and a perfect empathy with his rhythm section at any time. Or it may be that the conflict he often had with his players stimulated him into the Robert Schumann-like periods of manic and brilliant creativity. Pepper is superb throughout, but he turns in a 12-cylinder performance of perhaps his most famous piece, "Straight Life" and rocks in a funky Eddie Harris rhythm on "What Laurie Likes". It is fortunate that there is music by Pepper that we have yet to here. When he passed away in 1982, he certainly was the greatest alto saxophonist in the world.


Track Listing: Good Bait; What Laurie Likes; Here's That Rainy Day; Straight Life. (Total Time: 51:38)

Personnel: Art Pepper: Alto saxophone; Ed Kelly: Piano; Kenny Jenkins: Bass; Brad Bilhorn: Drums.

Title: Renascence | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Galaxy Music Group


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