334

Art Pepper: Smack Up

David Rickert By

Sign in to view read count
Art Pepper: Smack Up Art Pepper's reckless lifestyle tended to overshadow his superb musicianship, and the circumstances surrounding Smack Up are certainly no exception. Shortly after recording it in 1960, he spent three years in jail for heroin possession, and one can only wonder if the title of the record is a play on words. Nevertheless, Pepper is in good form, as he usually was despite his troubles, darting over the changes and stitching together sharp, boppish lines without hesitation. Featuring a crack rhythm section and a subtle accompanist in trumpeter Jack Sheldon, one can easily expect a set of expertly played jazz.

However, this album is different from the usual West Coast program of standards and show tunes, in that it features songs composed by other saxophonists associated with the Contemporary label, from the famous (Carter) to the infamous (Coleman) to the downright obscure (Duane Tatro and Jack Montrose). Most of these songs are inspired originals that never would have been recorded again had Pepper not resuscitated them, and the varied selection of artists and styles gives the album a wider reach than Pepper's other records, or most West Coast records for that matter.

The end result is a set that runs through various directions of music from the high-powered swing of Buddy Collette's "A Bit of Basie" to the hard bop of "Smack Up" to the edgy leanings of the Tatro tune "Maybe Next Year." The quintet even explores a soulful groove more commonly found on Blue Note releases with Pepper's own "Las Cuevas de Mario" (in 5/4) and Montrose's "Solid Citizens." Appropriately Jolly sits out for the Coleman tune while Pepper and Sheldon wander over the changes, a little more tentatively than Ornette did.

But the strength of the album, other than the terrific playing, is just that it sounds different, an unexpected foray into little known songs that features energy and swing in equal doses. Perhaps the novelty of the music forced the musicians to approach the material more creatively or purposefully, but whatever the reason, Smack Up is one of the highlights of Pepper's career, a record that shows that despite his sordid life, he was a master on his instrument.


Track Listing: 1. Smack Up 2. Las Cuevas de Mario 3. A Bit of Basie 4. How Can You Lose 5. Maybe Next Year 6. Tears Inside 7. Solid Citizens (take 33) 8. Solid Citizens (take 37).

Personnel: Art Pepper -alto sax; Jack Sheldon -trumpet; Pete Jolly -piano; Jimmy Bond -bass; Frank Butler -drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Contemporary | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Positive Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Positive Changes
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "Panola County Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Panola County Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Intermission" CD/LP/Track Review Intermission
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "Still Happy" CD/LP/Track Review Still Happy
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Young" CD/LP/Track Review Young
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Refuge In Sound" CD/LP/Track Review Refuge In Sound
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!