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Art Pepper

Jun 12, 2014

Art Pepper
Credit All About Jazz

Sunday Night Jazz Showcase

Program 23 (June 15 at 11pm) 

Despite a remarkably colorful and difficult life, Art Pepper was quite consistent in the recording studios; virtually every recording he made is well worth getting. In the 1950s he was able to develop his own sound despite the dominant influence of Charlie Parker.

During his last years, Pepper seemed to put all of his life's experiences into his music and he played with startling emotional intensity. Pepper played with mostly black groups on Central Avenue in Los Angeles. He spent a little time in the Benny Carter and Stan Kenton orchestras before serving time in the military (1944-1946).

Some of Pepper's happiest days were during his years with Stan Kenton (1947-1952), although he became a heroin addict in that period. The 1950s found the musician recording frequently both as a leader and a sideman, resulting in at least two classics (“Plays Modern Jazz Classics” and “Meets the Rhythm Section”), but he also spent two periods in jail due to drug offenses during 1953-1956.

He recorded with Buddy Rich in 1968 before getting seriously ill and rehabilitating at Synanon (1969-1971). Art Pepper began his serious comeback in 1975 and the unthinkable happened. Under the guidance and inspiration of his wife Laurie, Pepper not only recovered his former form but topped himself with intense solos that were quite unique; he also enjoyed occasionally playing clarinet.

His recordings for Contemporary and Galaxy rank with the greatest work of his career. When Art Pepper died at the age of 56, he had attained his goal of becoming the world's great altoist.

Story courtesy of Allmusic.com