171

Art Pepper: The Hollywood All-Star Sessions

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Let’s face it, when historians and other purveyors of the jazz legacy consider the scene during the 1970s, a bleak outlook is usually the upshot. Jazz had become commercialized, fusionized, rock infested, and raped. Even the modest amount of mainstream fare that was being released to little public notice seemed to pale in comparison with the great body of work delivered during the golden age of the ‘50s and ‘60s. When it came to the life of Art Pepper, this era certainly had more than its share of tribulations for a man whose body had been ravaged by drug addiction and personal demons. His greatest work had already been documented several years earlier for Lester Koenig’s Contemporary label and only his final set of live recordings from the Village Vanguard would meet or exceed standards set forth by earlier artifacts.

Despite the state of affairs described above, there were moments when Pepper was able to transcend his conditions. In the fall of 1978, Pepper had signed a contract with the Galaxy label, with his untimely death coming a mere four years later. Meanwhile, Japanese producers engaged Pepper’s services for a series of all-star dates to feature West Coast players cutting standards under the nominal leadership of Bill Watrous, Jack Sheldon, Pete Jolly, Sonny Stitt, Shelly Manne, and Lee Konitz. These recordings were issued in Japan on the Atlas label, but never before released in this country until now. The Hollywood All-Star Sessions is a five disc set that gives us some memorable, if not downright essential material from Pepper’s later years.

Aside from one session that has Pepper working with just a trio, the rest of the dates included here find Pepper paired with other front line partners, most notably trumpeter Jack Sheldon and trombonist Bill Watrous. There are also meetings with two of Pepper’s contemporaries, namely Sonny Stitt and Lee Konitz. While the former gentleman is not at the top of his game and Pepper seems intimidated at his presence, the matching of Konitz and Pepper is imminently logical, the former being as reserved as the latter is outgoing. Throughout these six sessions spanning the years 1979 to 1982, a spate of West Coast luminaries is on hand including Lou Levy, Pete Jolly, Shelly Manne, Bob Cooper and Russ Freeman.

Completing this package is a 36-page booklet with insightful commentary provided by Laurie Pepper and a collection of period photographs. Sound quality is unusually strong considering the radical changes in recording techniques prevalent at the time. While not largely considered an innovator, Pepper was arguably one of the most lyrical alto saxophonists jazz has ever seen and he’s heard to good advantage here, making this an easy recommendation.


Track Listing: 52 tracks on five discs, including two unissued alternates

Personnel: Art Pepper (alto saxophone) with Monty Budwig, Carl Burnett, Bob Cooper, Chuck Domanico, John Dentz, Tony Dumas, Russ Freeman, John Heard, Pete Jolly, Lee Konitz, Mike Lang, Milcho Leviev, Lou Levy, Bob Magnusson, Shelly Manne, Roy McCurdy, Jack Sheldon, Sonny Stitt, and Bill Watrous

| Record Label: Galaxy Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
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 "Les Indignés" CD/LP/Track Review Les Indignés
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 3, 2016
Read "Swallowed by the New" CD/LP/Track Review Swallowed by the New
by Doug Collette
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "The Whole World Must Change" CD/LP/Track Review The Whole World Must Change
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Subterranea" CD/LP/Track Review Subterranea
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "When You Wish Upon a Star" CD/LP/Track Review When You Wish Upon a Star
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 3, 2016
Read "One For Cisco" CD/LP/Track Review One For Cisco
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 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!