Lone Hill Jazz presents a package of vintage cool West Coast jazz, bringing to light 16 excellent tracks that have all but fallen through the cracks over the years. On Monday, November 26, 1956 (which just happened to be the day that Tommy Dorsey died), tenor saxophonists Ted Brown and Warne Marsh brought their working quintet into a Los Angeles recording studio to make Brown's first album as a leader, with special guest alto saxophonist Art Pepper adding his own third dimension.
The third of three volumes chronicling Pepper's complete Aladdin recordings, Blue Note's Art of Pepper, Vol. 3 finds the West Coast alto saxophonist in top form over the course of 12 stunning cuts. Recorded in 1957, the set takes in both Pepper originals ("Holiday Flight," "Surf Ride") and choice standards ("Long Ago and Faraway," "Without a Song"). There's also a fine cover of the rare Bud Powell cut "Webb City." Topped off with excellent work by pianist Carl Perkins, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Chuck Flores, this collection is a must-have for all Pepper fans.
Blue Note's The Return of Art Pepper: The Complete Art Pepper Aladdin Recordings compiles the 13 final masters that the alto saxophonist recorded for Aladdin between August 1956 and January 1957. These are titled The Return of Art Pepper, since they were recorded shortly after he completed a jail sentence in 1956. As a result, Pepper's chops are a little rusty, but you can hear that he still has a passion for playing, and he does improve over the course of these tracks. For serious Pepper fans, it's worth a listen, but for less dedicated fans, there are better places to become acquainted with his work.