Art Pepper mostly sticks to standards on this Discovery LP, but he brings out new life in the veteran songs, particularly on such ballads as "Round Midnight," "What's New" and "Besame Mucho." With the assistance of pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Frank Butler, the great altoist (who is heard just prior to signing an exclusive contract with the Galaxy label) is also in top form on such pieces as "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "I'll Remember April." An excellent (if not quite essential) release.
If you thrive on a healthy diet of 1950s jazz played by a matched pair of talented saxophonists, this collection will be a swinging slice of heaven. Among the "coolest" of the West Coast tenor players of the 1950s, Bill Perkins in later years became a bit influenced by John Coltrane and modernized his style in a personal way. A flexible and versatile musician who also played baritone, alto, soprano, and flute, Perkins was best-known for his work on tenor.
While Art Pepper's career was nearing an end when this quartet date was recorded in Tokyo, he substituted timing, knowledge, and experience for flash and power on this LP's six tunes. His alto and occasional clarinet work had color, conviction, and edge, which compensated for the loss of tone and speed from his peak days. Pianist George Cables was the group's top soloist, sometimes playing with remarkable fire and other times underscoring a direction began by Pepper or providing soothing melodies or enticing answering themes. Even near the end, Pepper's solos maintained an intensity that was commendable, and this date will delight both his fans and general jazz audiences.
This giant 16-CD Galaxy set features Pepper at the peak of his powers. Most of the performances are in a quartet setting, although this collection also includes a session with strings, five unaccompanied alto solos (he also plays clarinet on a few tracks), and a pair of CDs in which Pepper performs duets with pianist George Cables. Although more general collectors may want to acquire some of the individual sessions first (most of which are available separately on CD), the more dedicated jazz fans are advised to save their money and acquire this essential package.
The seven sides that make up the all-star outing Picture of Heath (1961) might be familiar to fans of co-leads Chet Baker (trumpet) or Art Pepper (alto saxophone), as Playboys (1956). Perhaps owing to trademark-related issues with the men's magazine of the same name, Picture of Heath became the moniker placed on the 1961 Pacific Jazz vinyl re-release, as well as the 1989 compact disc. Regardless of the designation on the label, the contents gather selections recorded on October 31, 1956 – the third encounter between Baker and Pepper.
This 1989 CD issue compiles all known sides cut during a July 26, 1956, session led by Chet Baker (trumpet) and Art Pepper (alto sax). Keen-eyed enthusiasts will note that this particular date occurred during a remarkable week – July 23 through July 31 – of sessions held at the behest of Pacific Jazz label owner and session producer Dick Bock at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles. The recordings made during this week not only inform The Route, but three other long-players as well: Lets Get Lost (The Best of Chet Baker Sings), Chet Baker and Crew, and Chet Baker Quintet at the Forum Theatre.
I’ve long overlooked Pepper’s later work, there is so much good stuff in his prime, but when I stumbled on this lovely three box set recorded in 1977, and with one of my recent favourite bassists, George Mraz, and Mr Elvin Jones on drums, a second opinion was long overdue. Recorded over three nights before a relaxed appreciative audience (no jackass stomping hooting or whistling, – apologies to those who welcome the more demonstrative audience ) this live set automatically has you turning the lights down low and joining the audience, a decanter positioned strategically within arms reach.