Art Pepper | The Art History Project

Go To Artist Page

Recommended if You Like
Charlie Parker Lester Young Miles Davis

Album Links
REVIEWS! REVIEWS! Music Video: "Track 2" from Disc two. Art Pepper Website

More Artists From
United States - California - LA

Other Genres You Will Love
Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Blues: Soul-Blues Moods: Type: Improvisational
There are no items in your wishlist.

The Art History Project

by Art Pepper

Soulful bop, blues, and lovesongs, inside, outside, wild, and sweet.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
Release Date: 

We'll ship when it's back in stock

Order now and we'll ship when it's back in stock, or enter your email below to be notified when it's back in stock.
Sign up for the CD Baby Newsletter
Your email address will not be sold for any reason.
Continue Shopping
available for download only
Share to Google +1

Tracks

Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.

To listen to tracks you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Sorry, there has been a problem playing the clip.

  song title
share
time
download
1. Art Pepper
Share this song!
X
5:20 $0.99
2. Fascinatin' Rhythm
Share this song!
X
4:26 $0.99
3. Patricia
Share this song!
X
3:38 $0.99
4. Tickle Toe
Share this song!
X
2:53 $0.99
5. Pepper Returns
Share this song!
X
4:27 $0.99
6. Mambo De La Pinta
Share this song!
X
4:17 $0.99
7. These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)
Share this song!
X
2:40 $0.99
8. Cool Bunny
Share this song!
X
4:15 $0.99
9. Besame Mucho
Share this song!
X
4:00 $0.99
10. Art's Oregano
Share this song!
X
3:10 $0.99
11. Diane
Share this song!
X
3:35 $0.99
12. I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me
Share this song!
X
5:24 $0.99
13. Straight Life
Share this song!
X
2:52 $0.99
14. Everything Happens to Me
Share this song!
X
3:07 $0.99
15. Nutmeg
Share this song!
X
3:13 $0.99
16. What's New?
Share this song!
X
4:06 $0.99
17. Begin the Beguine
Share this song!
X
7:21 $0.99
18. Rehearsal
Share this song!
X
1:06 $0.99
19. Track 2
Share this song!
X
7:53 $0.99
20. So in Love
Share this song!
X
10:56 $0.99
21. Talk
Share this song!
X
0:14 $0.99
22. That Crazy Blues
Share this song!
X
6:27 $0.99
23. D Section
Share this song!
X
10:46 $0.99
24. Chelsea Bridge
Share this song!
X
5:11 $0.99
25. Caravan
Share this song!
X
12:58 $0.99
26. Lost Life
Share this song!
X
8:39 $0.99
27. Landscape
Share this song!
X
12:48 $0.99
28. Angel Wings
Share this song!
X
5:19 $0.99
29. Historia De Un Amor
Share this song!
X
7:45 $0.99
30. Mambo Koyama
Share this song!
X
14:13 $0.99
31. That's Love
Share this song!
X
7:30 $0.99
preview all songs

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
This album is also available as a high quality download (.wav, .aiff, .flac, etc.) at artpepper.bandcamp.com for $14 & a FREE download of "Tickle Toe" is available there as well.

This three disc set, volume IV of the Unreleased Art Pepper series, sums up the intensity of feeling, the wit, rage, sensuality and daring, the moans of pain and shouts of celebration of the life Art shared with us -- in his book, "Straight Life, and always in his music.

Coda: Widow's Taste is "nearly impeccable," and Art's playing on previous releases "rhapsodic, heartfelt, almost demonic, exhaustive." --Jack Chambers

New York Times, in a feature article: Widow's Taste "captures the artist at a mesmerizing peak." --Fred Kaplan

Audiophile Audition: "I have loved each of the Unreleased series, but I have to say that Vol. 3 is my favorite. Its combination of funky swinging blues combined with Art's lay-it-on-the-line blowing knocks me out. The sound is surprisingly good and kudos should go to Wayne Peet for a brilliant remastering job." --Jeff Krow

In keeping with the goals of the Widow's Taste Unreleased Art series, two-thirds of the music here has never been released before. The program begins in 1950 (Art Pepper with Stan Kenton) and concludes with tracks from a previously unreleased New York gig, featuring Stanley Cowell, George Mraz, and Ben Riley, played just a couple of months before Pepper's June 1982 death, at age 56.

Art Pepper played the most autobiographical instrumental music in the world. The 17 selections on the forthcoming Widow's Taste release, The Art History Project, describe the emotional and musical evolution of an artist as he reacted, always intensely, to the events of his own life and to the events of the music world in general.
 
The 3-CD set, lovingly compiled by the alto saxophonist's widow, Laurie Pepper, and set for release on June 23, includes a 20-page booklet filled with previously unpublished photographs as well as anecdotes, impressions, and information from her life with Art and from the book they wrote together, Straight Life. But the musical emphasis throughout is more on Art than on history. No track has been included purely for its historical value. Each performance is of good-to-excellent audio quality, all have been remastered by the truly masterly Wayne Peet, and together they embody the heights and depths Art felt and was able to convey.

Disc 1. Pure Art is a story told by the young fellow who placed second only to Charlie Parker in the Down Beat polls, and who, by his own account, "musically, at least, had the world by the tail." That "at least" is typical Art Pepper. Nothing was ever was quite perfect enough. Nothing was ever quite right. He began to use drugs during this period, in an effort to escape the universal lack that prodded and plagued him. This disc is mostly "West Coast Jazz" with all its contrapuntal cleverness and loveliness -- though Art always gave it his own bright little edge of adrenaline so it never was lightweight. Many of the tunes are his originals. Sidemen here include Warne Marsh, Jack Sheldon, and Shorty Rogers "This music is sublime and really timeless," says Laurie.
 
Disc 2. Hard Art consists of mostly unreleased material from a rehearsal recorded at Contemporary Studios in 1964 a few weeks after Art's first release from San Quentin. It reveals his love for Coltrane and for the new sound of jazz. Art's songs still swing and have moments of lyricism, but he uses the license given him by freer musical conventions to express the grief, anger, and alienation he felt in the midst of serving what seemed like an only-occasionally-interrupted life sentence -- doing time in jails and prisons just for using drugs. 
 
Disc 3. Consummate Art is just that. This is a narrative of reconciliation. In this music, most of which has never been released, Art embraces his past and his pain in music that is delicate, lively, and touching, and, at the same time, free: It rages and celebrates. The edge of desperation is still there, but Art has found a way to use it. He is again at the top of the jazz polls, respected and even adored, playing all over the world. He is "a knowing athlete, trained and poised" (Gary Giddins, Village Voice), who brought from deep inside the beauty of his own passion angst and glee and connected so unerringly with ours. He was "an architect of emotion" (John Litweiler, Chicago Sun-Times) who "played with controlled intensity, clean articulation, and a command of his instrument that make his virtuosity seem almost casual and easy" (John S. Wilson, New York Times).
 
The new set is an ideal companion piece to Art's book Straight Life and, like the other volumes in the Unreleased Art series, it is an instant collector's item. Each volume has been compiled by the partner who knew Art most completely, and in irreverent anecdotes she gives him to us whole, his music reverentially reproduced and packaged.
 
Laurie Pepper's Widow's Taste label was launched in 2006 in order to introduce Art to a generation who may not know how soulful jazz can be and to satisfy the blessedly insatiable desires of his knowledgeable fans. That this small record company remains in the black is thanks to those fans and to the overwhelming praise heaped on it:
 


Reviews


to write a review

Art Pepper

The Art HIstory Project
Besides great value for money (less than 7 bucks a cd), there is a whole bunch of other reasons why I think this box is a must have.

Let’s start with the slightly less objective reasons:
- I’ve been a lover of jazz music for over 20 years and that started after I heard Art’s music for the first time
- I’ve been playing saxophone since slightly less long ago and I’ve started playing for the same reason
- Whether I want to hear the most exiting, most melancholy, most angry or most sensitive music, I usually turn to Art Pepper. When it doesn’t have to be the ‘most’ whatever, I have other artists I like very much ;-)
- If you don’t but this, Laurie won’t be able to bring out the next release

The more objective reasons:

If you’re unknown with the music of Art Pepper and you’d like to know what all the fuss is about: instead of spending hours surfing the web to find out which are the best cd’s to start with, what the difference is between the Art’s music from the 50’s and from after 1975, what kind of a person he was, etc, etc, here is the instant answer.
- an excellent selection that covers his first work with the Stan Kenton band up untill the very last year of his life.
- selection made by Laurie Pepper who knew Art and his work better than anyone else
- included are very informative liner notes explaining what kind of a person Art was and how this relates to his work
- last but not least: all the tracks sound as if they were recorded yesterday!

For the ones who already know his work: about two thirds of the set has either never before been released or has had a very limited release. So even if you’re a die-hard collector, most of this you won’t have.

TE

Genius; the Heavyweight Champion of the Alto Saxophone
Although I own many of the tracks on various releases, I have to say that the remastering is worth it alone. Art was a genius; the heavyweight champion of the alto saxophone. Any chance of hearing him in better sound should be seized. The unreleased tracks on discs two and three are amazing. The previously released tracks are stunning, too. We can only hope that more cds are in the works.

Jeff Krow: Audiophile Audition

The Art History Project: Thank you Laurie!
We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the prior three issues of unreleased Art Pepper material researched and annotated by Art’s widow, Laurie. The prior issues were from the end of Art’s career, when he was in a mad rush to outrun the grim reaper. Art knew the end was near yet his playing and passion consumed his whole being. Largely recorded overseas - Japan and England, along with his career closing concert in Washington D.C in 1982, Art was still in prime form and his passionate playing had a gut-wrenching urgency that was truly gripping.
With Vol. 4 Laurie Pepper has gone for the whole enchilada - a complete introduction to Art’s entire career, from the Kenton band to “West Coast style” cool jazz in Disc 1 (Pure Art); to mid-period Pepper (post-San Quentin) when Coltrane’s influence permeated Art’s playing and an angrier aggressive mood was present on Hard Art, with Disc 2. We then return to late period Art Pepper with Disc 3 and Consummate Art, which has some unreleased surprises.

The self-titled Art Pepper from the Stan Kenton Innovations Band opens Disc 1. It swings hard and Art’s solo matches the advanced big band rhythms this Kenton band had. Seven of the 17 tracks on Disc 1 come from Modern Art. Five come from Surf Ride. No unreleased tracks are found on Disc 1. Wayne Peet has done another nice job remastering this material, however. I just love Patricia, which Art wrote for his daughter - it is a beautiful ballad.

Disc 2 ups the ante with six out of seven tracks previously unreleased. Just after his release from San Quentin in 1964, Art put a band together and performed on TV and in clubs. Contemporary’s Les Koenig, had no interest in Art’s post-prison harder edge material, and though allowing some recording had no interest in its release. The recording quality is not up to par, but Art completists will be fascinated with the in-your-face playing Art brings to the six unreleased tracks that feature pianist Frank Strazzeri, Hersh Hamel on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. Coltrane’s influence is present, and Strazzeri’s bop playing is a nice counterpoint to Art’s forays. That Crazy Blues takes off with squeaks and squawks and Hamel and Goodwin keep pace admirably, with especially Hamel acquitting himself admirably. The Rich Big Band does a unique read on Chelsea Bridge to close out Disc 2 and Pepper is back with more sensual playing from a re-recording that Rich did letting Art blow hard. We begin to get back to Art’s passionate playing that consumed his later years. Chelsea Bridge got a big gale wind from this arrangement!

Disc 3 may be the most interesting disc as it provides post-Synanon 1975-1982, the closing stages of Art’s career and life when he poured his passion into his playing baring his soul. All the tracks here are unreleased or had very limited exposure to the public. Ranging from venues from Japan to Paris, with Half Moon Bay’s iconic Bach Dynamite and Dancing Society, and rounding out with two live tracks from New York’s Fat Tuesday. We also have two songs from the Hollywood Sessions from 1980 that have had more exposure in the last ten years from a box set. Most of these closing seven tracks allow Art to stretch out where on their tracks together Milcho Leviev pushed Art, often hogging the proceedings to Art’s chagrin. The great Stanley Cowell, a more sympathetic accompanist is featured on two songs given extended readings, Landscape and Mambo Koyama. The rhythm section here is about as top notch as New York provided at the time - Cowell, George Mraz, and Ben Riley. Laurie feels they played too fast for the ballads and mildly up-tempo numbers but to my ears, especially on Landscape, they sound mighty fine. A return to the West Coast sound demanded by Art’s rabid Japanese fans is provided on Angel Wings and Historia de un Mor, where good friend (and wild man, still with us) Jack Sheldon provides a good foil for Art. Historia is especially moving.

Every time I think the well has run dry with new Art Pepper material, Laurie Pepper finds new hidden treasures. As a companion to Art’s autobiography, Straight Life, The Art History Project provides a well rounded retrospective into the genius that was Art Pepper.May Laurie Pepper continue to surprise and please us with more Unreleased Art. For us Art Pepper completists, the more the merrier. Art Pepper lives on….

REASON

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR
I'd like to share with you one of my favorite jazz musicians of all time, Mr. Art Pepper. Art played with the same intensity that drove his life and lifestyle. Mr. Pepper spent a large portion of his adult life behind bars from drug related arrests. His playing conveys this... chasing the melody, chasing the dragon. Art Pepper and his widow, Laurie wrote a wonderful book on his life, called "Straight Life."

Do yourself a favor and pick up the brand new release "The Art History Project". On Laurie Pepper's own "Widow's Taste" record label. 3 cds of some of the best jazz you'll find anywhere, played by a master:


RESONANT FILTER
A MUSIC TECHNOLOGY & TECHNIQUE BLOG

Lala

New York Times Review: Ben Ratliffe
The widow of the saxophonist Art Pepper, who died in 1982, has recently inaugurated a CD-reissue project to fill in the blanks of Pepper’s career with live recordings. But with “The Art History Project” (Widow’s Taste), she’s attempting something more like a very boiled down, highly subjective career retrospective, with previously unissued music as the bait. (She mentions in her liner notes that it could serve as an audio companion to Pepper’s fascinating autobiography, “Straight Life,” which she helped him write.) The set dedicates one CD to Pepper’s work from the 1950s, one to the ’60s and one to the ’70s. The early tracks float by on his urgent, vulnerable and melodic alto saxophone improvising. It’s some of the best West Coast jazz of that time, luscious pop art with a fighting spirit, from records like “Modern Art,” “The Way It Was” and “The Discovery Sessions.”
The set becomes interesting in the 1960s, after Pepper’s six on-and-off years in jail, and shows his increasing respect for John Coltrane. There’s still some California buoyancy in previously unknown tracks like “Track 2,” but you hear it giving way, as if a switch were flipped, to long, scrabbling, honking phrases. Ms. Pepper lobbies hard for the ’70s as his prime period, when he had finally made it through jail, drugs and rehab, and found a synthesis of his past styles. Though the live recordings she has chosen aren’t perfect — some are with pickup bands and compromised sound — their intensity and experience they transmit is unmistakable.

Lala

Audiophile Audition: Jeff Krow
Thank you, Laurie
Art Pepper: The Art History Project / Unreleased Art, Vol. IV - Widow’s Taste APM 09001 - 3 CDs: Disc 1: 68:53, Disc 2: 42:35, Disc 3: 69:15 ****1/2 [Avail. CD Baby]:
(Art Pepper, alto sax – playing with various artists over 31 year period (1951-1982): incl. the Stan Kenton Innovations Orchestra, Buddy Rich Big Band; with pianists – Carl Perkins, Russ Freeman, Hampton Hawes, Ronnie Ball, Claude Williamson, Frank Strazzeri, Milcho Leviev, Smith Dobson, Stanley Cowell – Horns – Jack Sheldon, Warne Marsh –bassists include: Leroy Vinnegar, Ben Tucker, Joe Mondragon, Hersh Hamel, Bob Magnusson, George Mraz – Drummers include: Shelley Manne, Chuck Flores, Larry Bunker, Carl Burnett, Ben Riley)
We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the prior three issues of unreleased Art Pepper material researched and annotated by Art’s widow, Laurie. The prior issues were from the end of Art’s career, when he was in a mad rush to outrun the grim reaper. Art knew the end was near yet his playing and passion consumed his whole being. Largely recorded overseas - Japan and England, along with his career closing concert in Washington D.C in 1982, Art was still in prime form and his passionate playing had a gut-wrenching urgency that was truly gripping.
With Vol. 4 Laurie Pepper has gone for the whole enchilada - a complete introduction to Art’s entire career, from the Kenton band to “West Coast style” cool jazz in Disc 1 (Pure Art); to mid-period Pepper (post-San Quentin) when Coltrane’s influence permeated Art’s playing and an angrier aggressive mood was present on Hard Art, with Disc 2. We then return to late period Art Pepper with Disc 3 and Consummate Art, which has some unreleased surprises.
The self-titled Art Pepper from the Stan Kenton Innovations Band opens Disc 1. It swings hard and Art’s solo matches the advanced big band rhythms this Kenton band had. Seven of the 17 tracks on Disc 1 come from Modern Art. Five come from Surf Ride. No unreleased tracks are found on Disc 1. Wayne Peet has done another nice job remastering this material, however. I just love Patricia, which Art wrote for his daughter - it is a beautiful ballad.
Disc 2 ups the ante with six out of seven tracks previously unreleased. Just after his release from San Quentin in 1964, Art put a band together and performed on TV and in clubs. Contemporary’s Les Koenig, had no interest in Art’s post-prison harder edge material, and though allowing some recording had no interest in its release. The recording quality is not up to par, but Art completists will be fascinated with the in-your-face playing Art brings to the six unreleased tracks that feature pianist Frank Strazzeri, Hersh Hamel on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. Coltrane’s influence is present, and Strazzeri’s bop playing is a nice counterpoint to Art’s forays. That Crazy Blues takes off with squeaks and squawks and Hamel and Goodwin keep pace admirably, with especially Hamel acquitting himself admirably. The Rich Big Band does a unique read on Chelsea Bridge to close out Disc 2 and Pepper is back with more sensual playing from a re-recording that Rich did letting Art blow hard. We begin to get back to Art’s passionate playing that consumed his later years. Chelsea Bridge got a big gale wind from this arrangement! Disc 3 may be the most interesting disc as it provides post-Synanon 1975-1982, the closing stages of Art’s career and life when he poured his passion into his playing baring his soul. All the tracks here are unreleased or had very limited exposure to the public. Ranging from venues from Japan to Paris, with Half Moon Bay’s iconic Bach Dynamite and Dancing Society, and rounding out with two live tracks from New York’s Fat Tuesday. We also have two songs from the Hollywood Sessions from 1980 that have had more exposure in the last ten years from a box set. Most of these closing seven tracks allow Art to stretch out where on their tracks together Milcho Leviev pushed Art, often hogging the proceedings to Art’s chagrin. The great Stanley Cowell, a more sympathetic accompanist is featured on two songs given extended readings, Landscape and Mambo Koyama. The rhythm section here is about as top notch as New York provided at the time - Cowell, George Mraz, and Ben Riley. Laurie feels they played too fast for the ballads and mildly up-tempo numbers but to my ears, especially on Landscape, they sound mighty fine. A return to the West Coast sound demanded by Art’s rabid Japanese fans is provided on Angel Wings and Historia de un Mor, where good friend (and wild man, still with us) Jack Sheldon provides a good foil for Art. Historia is especially moving.
Every time I think the well has run dry with new Art Pepper material, Laurie Pepper finds new hidden treasures. As a companion to Art’s autobiography, Straight Life, The Art History Project provides a well rounded retrospective into the genius that was Art Pepper.May Laurie Pepper continue to surprise and please us with more Unreleased Art. For us Art Pepper completists, the more the merrier. Art Pepper lives on….
- Jeff Krow

Lala

JazzWax: Marc Myers
When Straight Life came out, I had known little of Pepper's life story. But after reading the book in one sitting, I understood immediately what Pepper was trying to say with his music and where all that energy, pain and beauty came from.
[On Disc 2] Dig the 11-minute So In Love featuring free jazz breaks with John Coltrane-like arpeggio showers. But this motif isn't a lift. Pepper breaks in places, allowing his former lyricism to emerge. On That Crazy Blues, there are shades of Ornette Coleman as Pepper spins and spins while developing ideas.
Even if you already own some of the set's tracks on Individual albums, it's a delight to have Laurie Pepper's choices here. Just knowing that she finds these tracks meaningful and in this order make them special. The remastering by Wayne Peet is superb.

Lala

Phillip Klingler
Art Pepper: "The Art History Project (Unreleased Art, Vol IV)" is the latest release from Laurie Pepper's Widow's Taste label. Laurie has been providing us with a lot of rare and formerly unavailable recordings by Art over the last few years, and this comprehensive 3CD box is no different.
This is a fascinating set that features Art, from a historical perspective, in three different settings: His early days, 1951-60, when he first established his reputation as a formidable alto saxophonist on the bop jazz scene; the middle years, 1960-68, when he emerged from a long prison sentence with new ideas he hoped to put into action on the free jazz scene only to be continually mired by his own propensity towards self-destruction; and the final years, 1972-82, when Art, despite all odds, transformed his music with renewed energy and consolidation of all his concepts to create a vast body of timeless music.
Disc One, "Pure Art", is Art Pepper in the early years, even at a young age definitely at the top of his game. Art performs what have now become jazz standards, but in the 1950's these songs were contemporary, some taken from Hollywood musicals and such. For me, however, it is more interesting to hear Art's original compositions, in particular the ballad in dedication to his daughter, 'Patricia'. I've heard very long and moving renditions of this song from Art's peak in the late 70's, but in the 50's the track times were, of necessity, shorter. (remember, the record companies were still looking for jazz singles in the 3 minute range) Art was able to make such a strong impression in a short song and Patricia is one heartfelt tribute, that's for certain. And then there's 'Straight Life', this version recorded in 1954 when Charlie Parker was still quite active. Parker's giant shadow was cast over the entire jazz community and there were saxophonists who gave up playing alto in those days because grappling with Bird was too much. The amazing thing about Art Pepper is, in my opinion, he'd already mastered a lot of Parker's fast runs, and 'Straight Life' certainly showcases that aspect, but even at this early point, Art is always ready to put his heart on the line and play (overtly) emotionally. Where Bird would wow an audience with his rare facility, I never heard in his work the sort of expressionist dynamics that Art portrayed. This places Art, I feel, more conclusively in the "post-bop" era, along with such altoists as Jackie McLean, or Eric Dolphy. If Art had been able to remain active throughout the 1960's, instead of behind bars or in rehab facilities, I believe he would have been just as influential as those two.
The first disc I actually listened to was "Hard Art"(CD 2). Reason for this is that there have never been any recordings available, to my knowledge, from the period where Art was first doing a prison sentence and then a long stint in rehab at the Synanon Center where he later met his wife, Laurie Pepper. There had been documentation of Art's interest in John Coltrane's music, and how it had influenced him in some of the interviews I'd read, but no recordings had ever surfaced. Purportedly, and this has been substantiated by Laurie, Art even took up the tenor saxophone for a time in a sort of emulation of Coltrane. When Art got out of jail in 1964, Lester Koenig, of Contemporary Records, allowed Art to use the Contemporary recording studios to rehearse a new quartet and that rehearsal was recorded. Mr. Koenig, in his infinite wisdom, wished the tapes to be erased but somebody at the record label with more sense did not follow his wishes and saved these valuable documents, so the fact that this music survives today is remarkable!
And this set is a revelation. Being very familiar with Art's renaissance period, I can hear right away that he is not using all of the same dynamics that he exhibited in his post-1972 work. No, here he's like a wildcat released from a zoo, running and running just to feel the freedom! His playing has more ragged edges, certainly on purpose, since Art could do anything he wanted to on the saxophone, and definitely could have performed well within his comfort zone if he so chose, but instead he roars out of the gate challenging himself to grapple with the jazz giants of 1964. Jazz music, in the mid-60's, was not the same world as that of Parker, Dizzy and Monk. Jazz had become increasingly abstract and expressively able to address profound personal and sociopolitical issues. But Laurie is right-on when she says that Art's music, even when he's going "out", always "swings"! Art could never release completely from his own innate sense of rhythmic content. He'd come up in the bebop clubs onstage battling with some of the greatest players in the era of Charlie Parker's immense domination and Art could never quite get those experiences out of his blood. But this is about as close as you'll get to a free-jazz Art Pepper and it's a beautiful thing.
"Consummate Art" (Disc 3) starts out as such a strong validation for those prison and drug years and the music Art had been distilling inside waiting to unleash. The first track, 'Caravan', is simply stunning and may be even more free-jazz than a lot of the music on the "Hard Art" set. By this time, Art is able to move back and forth between structure and freedom in his solos to a place where every inflection, every slur, every racing flurry, they are all in servitude to the expressiveness of the piece. 'Caravan' was never meant to be played like this, but Art and the pianist, Milcho Leviev, use the number as a showcase piece to state with utmost certainty that they've encompassed all aspects of jazz history and despite how revelatory their solos are the piece still contains both the dance and exotic aspects portrayed in it by Duke Ellington version. If that's not enough for you, then comes the follow-up of Art's ballad, 'Lost Life'. Here the slow exploration of Art's own life-experience brings chills as he explains it all, lays it all out, plaintive and heartbreaking, in a language unencumbered by words. This album again reminds those of us who know, and informs those who don't yet know, that Art Pepper was one of the greatest musical expressionists EVER recorded!
Art, interviewed by Downbeat in 1951, stated his ambition to be "the best jazzman in America". What strikes me about this 3 CD set is that the argument for Art having achieved his goal is laid out so conclusively. But then again you'd be preaching to the converted here since I'm one of Art's biggest fans!

All About Jazz New York

Jeff Stockton
By Jeff Stockton
Jeff Stockton
View Profile | Contact Me
CD/DVD Reviewer
Joined AAJ in 2003

Jeff listens to as much recorded music as he can.

More about Jeff.
[Post Comment] Discuss [Print It!] [Email It!]

In her liner notes to Volume IV of the Art History Project, Art Pepper's widow describes him as a self-hating, alcoholic sex addict who turned to heroin in order to suppress these tendencies. Second only to Charlie Parker in the DownBeat polls of the day, nobody played alto saxophone as smooth and cool as Art Pepper. Unreleased Art, a three-disc set comprised of two-thirds never-before released material, traces Pepper's life in music from his golden era in the '50s through his prison- interrupted discovery of John Coltrane in the '60s, and concludes with his final period, fresh out of rehab in the '70s and playing as if his life depended on it.

This was Pepper's reality, and the music on Disc Three, subtitled Consummate Art, is haunting, driving, drawn out and never stops swinging. It's this period that defines Pepper as a true artist, 20 years and a lifetime beyond the handsome and impossibly talented natural in place at the start of his career. An authoritative blues closes this set, but it's "Lost Life," an achingly beautiful but harrowing ballad that represents Pepper's raison d'être.

Pepper was such a masterful balladeer it made his transition to a Trane-inspired improviser—freer, wilder and angrier—as shocking as Bob Dylan going electric at Newport. Disc Two's Hard Art includes "So in Love," a standard that earns a lengthy interpretation, and "That Crazy Blues" and "Section D," two cuts that reach intense, squealing heights that mark Pepper's great leap forward.

Not that Pepper's '50s music is lacking. Done in the West Coast style, Disc One's Pure Art (Schrimer, 1979) features in-the-pocket drumming and lead horns darting around the piano-dominated rhythm. "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Begin the Beguine" are effortlessly cool and tenor man Warne Marsh is brought in for a bouncy "I Can't Believe that You're in Love with Me" and a deconstruction of "What's New."

Laurie Pepper calls Unreleased Art Volume IV a companion piece to Straight Life, her collaborative biography of her husband. As aural autobiography, these three discs trace the evolution of a jazz genius who lived one hell of a life and who was never more profound and masterful than at the end.

Track listing: CD1: Art Pepper; Fascinatin' Rhythm; Patricia; Tickle Toe; Pepper Returns; Mambo de La Pinta; These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You); Cool Bunny; Besame Mucho; Art's Oregano; Diane; I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me; Straight Life; Everything Happens to Me; Nutmeg; What's New?; Begin the Beguine; CD2: Rehearsal; Track 2; So in Love; Talk; That Crazy Blues; D Section; Chelsea Bridge; CD3: Caravan; Lost Life; Landscape; Angel Wings; Historia de un Amor; Mambo Koyama; That's Love.

Personnel: Art Pepper: alto saxophone; Carl Perkins: piano (CD1); Ben Tucker: bass (CD1); Chuck Flores: drums (CD1); Jack Sheldon: trumpet (CD1); Russ Freeman: piano (CD1); Leory Vinegar: bass (CD1); Shelly Mann: drums (CD1); Bob Whitlock: bass (CD1); Bobby White: drums (CD1); Hampton Hawes: piano (CD1); Joe Mondragon: bass (CD1); Larry Bunker: drums (CD1); Gary Frommer: drums (CD1); Warne Marsh: tenor saxophone (CD1); Ronnie Bell: piano (CD1); Jack Montrose: tenor saxophone (CD1); Claude Williamson: piano (CD1); Monty Budwig: bass (CD1); Stan Kenton Innovative Orchestra (CD1); Frank Strazzeri: piano (CD2); Hersh Hammel: bass (CD2); Bill Goodwin: drums (CD2); Charles Owens: alto saxophone (CD2), flute (CD2), clarinet (CD2); Don Menza: tenor saxophone (CD2), flute (CD2); Pat LaBarbera: tenor saxophone (CD2), flute (CD2); John Laws: baritone saxophone (CD2), bass clarinet (CD2); Al Porcino: trumpet (CD2); Bill Prince: trumpet (CD2); Ken Faulk: trumpet (CD2); Dave Culp: trumpet (CD2); Jim Trimble: trombone (CD2); Rick Stepton: trombone (CD2); Peter Graves: trombone (CD2); Walt Namuth: guitar (CD2); Joe Azarello: piano (CD2); Gary Walters: bass (CD2); Buddy Rich: drums (CD2); Milcho Leviev: piano (CD3); Bob Magnuson: bass (CD3); Carl Burnett: drums (CD3); Smith Dobson: piano (CD3); Jim Nichols: bass (CD3); Brad Bihorn: drums (CD3); Stanley Cowell: piano (CD3); George Mraz: bass (CD3); Ben Riley: drums (CD3); Jack Sheldon: trumpet (CD3); Russ Freeman: piano (CD3); Bob Magnusson: bass (CD3); Carl Burnett: drums (CD3).