Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Laurie Pepper, widow of alto saxophonist Art Pepper, achieved a life milestone in her brilliantly liberating sequel to Straight Life—The Story Of Art Pepper By Art And Laurie Pepper (Da Capo Press, 1983), where she rhetorically asked:

"If Art hadn't had me there constantly assessing his mood, taking his aesthetic temperature, would he then have had to push his vision by himself? I think somebody else, another friend or lover, might have done it...But what matters here, to me in my story, is that it was me who paid attention and was listened to. I played an important part in this and other projects of undoubted value and knew it at the time and was thrilled and am proud now."

Art: Why I Stuck with A Junkie Jazzman (Art Pepper Music Corporation, 2014) is Laurie Pepper's proverbial "line in the sand" of Art Pepper's presently (in 2018) 36 year post-mortem period. It is the proper thing to consider when addressing the present Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto. It is now a foregone conclusion that Art Pepper would have never made the performance stage if not for Laurie Pepper. Beyond a doubt is the fact that these ten volumes of unreleased music would have never seen the light of day had she not championed their cause.

It is from Laurie Pepper's perspective and that of the Art Pepper's musical chronology that these recordings assume their importance. This June 16, 1977 Toronto concert represents Art Pepper purchasing real traction begun with his comeback recording Living Legend (Contemporary, 1975), Pepper's first studio recording since 1960's Intensity (Contemporary, 1963).

The intervening years had Pepper moldering in prisons, rehabs, odd jobs, kicking and scuffling around, finally meeting and wedding Laurie Miller, after which a confluence of spirits brought about a Phoenix-like rebirth, one that would not have happened save for the intervention of Laurie Pepper. Toronto was Art Pepper's first performance of his first extended tour leading his own band, a tour that would culminate in his triumphant Village Vanguard performances just weeks later.

The Art Pepper blowing out that ice-cold, dry martini tone on "Long Ago and Far Away" in 1960 was a decidedly different one performing the same song here 17 years later. "Ragged" is too strong a word, better applied to his searing performances at the Village Vanguard. "Fraying" might be a better word, but still not entirely true. In the years between Intensity and this recording, it would be easy for critics to complain that the saxophonist abandoned his early, note-perfect style for something less disciplined. But this is not less disciplined. Less patient, perhaps, but this is impassioned music, a sweet foreshadowing of the beautifully corrosive creativity that would characterize Pepper's Vanguard recordings.

Part of the passion with which Pepper performs here was inspired by a giant ten years gone as of this recording. Pepper discovered and assimilated the frontier spirit of John Coltrane, therein the eclipsing wall of notes and fast tempos. Pepper's phrasing became more compressed, more hurried, as if making up for lost time. Both versions of the Jerome Kern/Ira Gershwin classic are taken at a good clip, the newer performance being half-again faster than the 1960 performance. At about the 6-minute mark, Pepper does a full Coltrane, percolating up through the molten bebop of the piece, rendering the melody and counter-melodies incandescent. This is the triple point of bebop, post-bop, and reformed free jazz.

This 3-CD set is dominated by ballads: "Here's That Rainy Day," "What is This Thing Called Love," "The Summer Knows," "I'll Remember April." But it is a Pepper original that exists as the heartbeat of the recording. "Samba Mom Mom," a composition for Laurie Pepper, is to this Toronto recording, what "Make a Wish (Make as List)" was to Pepper's previously unreleased May 14, 1981 Croydon Concert (Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. III, Widow's Taste, 2008). Both songs also illustrate the tight, swinging relationship between Pepper and his bassists (Gene Perla here and Bob Magnusson on the Croydon performances), who laid down the necessary sonic asphalt for Pepper to soar. George Mraz would do the same at the Vanguard two weeks later.

Our hats are off to Laurie Pepper, bringing this imperfect performance to perfect realization.

Track Listing: CD1: A Song for Richard; Long Ago & Far Away; Here’s That Rainy Day; Blues for Heard; What is this Thing Called Love. CD2: All the Things You Are; Band Introductions; the Summer Knows; I’ll Remember April. CD3: Samba Mom Mom; Star Eyes; Art Pepper Interview by Hal Hill.

Personnel: Art Pepper: alto saxophone; Bernie Senensky: piano; Gene Perla/Dave Piltch: bass; Terry Clarke: drums.

Title: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Widow's Taste


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk CD/LP/Track Review
Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Pardes CD/LP/Track Review
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Music for a Free World CD/LP/Track Review
Music for a Free World
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Rats Live on No Evil Star CD/LP/Track Review
Rats Live on No Evil Star
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 9, 2018
Read "Down Memory Lane, Vols 3 and 4" CD/LP/Track Review Down Memory Lane, Vols 3 and 4
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 17, 2018
Read "Oscar Peterson Plays" CD/LP/Track Review Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "Hello Human" CD/LP/Track Review Hello Human
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 19, 2018
Read "From Silence to Somewhere" CD/LP/Track Review From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read "Module" CD/LP/Track Review Module
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 28, 2018
Read "Variety of Rhythm" CD/LP/Track Review Variety of Rhythm
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 10, 2018