Art Pepper

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Art Pepper

Art Pepper in Los Angeles, 1979.
Background information
Birth nameArthur Edward Pepper, Jr.
Born(1925-09-01)September 1, 1925
Gardena, California
United States
DiedJune 15, 1982(1982-06-15) (aged 56)
Los Angeles, California
United States
GenresCool jazz
West Coast jazz
Bop
Mainstream jazz
Hard bop
Post-bop
OccupationsSaxophonist
InstrumentsAlto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Clarinet
Associated actsStan Kenton
Shorty Rogers
 
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Art Pepper

Art Pepper in Los Angeles, 1979.
Background information
Birth nameArthur Edward Pepper, Jr.
Born(1925-09-01)September 1, 1925
Gardena, California
United States
DiedJune 15, 1982(1982-06-15) (aged 56)
Los Angeles, California
United States
GenresCool jazz
West Coast jazz
Bop
Mainstream jazz
Hard bop
Post-bop
OccupationsSaxophonist
InstrumentsAlto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Clarinet
Associated actsStan Kenton
Shorty Rogers

Art Pepper (September 1, 1925 – June 15, 1982),[1] born Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr., was an American alto saxophonist and clarinetist.

Contents

Career

Pepper was born in Gardena, California. He began his career in the 1940s, playing with Benny Carter and Stan Kenton (1946–52).[1] By the 1950s Pepper was recognized as one of the leading alto saxophonists in jazz, epitomized by his finishing second only to Charlie Parker as Best Alto Saxophonist in the Down Beat magazine Readers Poll of 1952. Along with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Shelly Manne, and perhaps due more to geography than playing style, Pepper is often associated with the musical movement known as West Coast jazz, as contrasted with the East Coast (or "hot") jazz associated with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Some of Pepper's most famous albums from the 1950s are Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics, Gettin' Together, and Smack Up. Representative music from this time appears on The Aladdin Recordings (three volumes), The Early Show, The Late Show, The Complete Surf Ride, and The Way It Was!, which features a session recorded with Warne Marsh.

His career was repeatedly interrupted by the years he had to spend in jail because of his recurring legal transgressions, stemming from his addiction to heroin, but Pepper managed to have several memorable and productive "comebacks". Remarkably, his substance abuse and legal travails did not affect the quality of his recordings, which maintained a high level of musicianship until his death from a brain hemorrhage.

His last comeback saw Pepper, who had started his career in Stan Kenton's big band, becoming a member of Buddy Rich's Big Band from 1968 to 1969. In 1977 and 1978 he made two well received tours of Japan.[1] During this period, he recorded two albums - Goin' Home with George Cables, and Winter Moon with a string orchestra - which were among his favorites and which he considered his definitive achievements.[2]

Personal life

Pepper lived for many years in the hills of Echo Park, in Los Angeles. He had become a heroin addict in the 1940s, and his career was interrupted by drug-related prison sentences in 1954–56, 1960–61, 1961–64 and 1964–65; the final two sentences were served in San Quentin.[1] While in San Quentin he played in an ensemble with saxophonist Frank Morgan. In the late 1960s Pepper spent time in Synanon, a drug rehabilitation group.

After beginning methadone therapy in the mid-1970s, Art had a musical comeback and recorded a series of albums including Living Legend, Art Pepper Today, Among Friends, and Live in Japan: Vol. 2.

His autobiography,[2] Straight Life (1980, transcribed by his third wife Laurie Pepper), discusses the jazz music world, as well as drug and criminal subcultures of mid-20th century California. Soon after the publication of this book, the director Don McGlynn released the documentary film Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor,[3] discussing his life and featuring interviews with both Art and his wife Laurie, as well as footage from a live performance in Malibu jazz club. Laurie Pepper also released an interview to NPR.

Pepper died of a stroke in Los Angeles.[2][4] He is interred in the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA.

Discography

Stan Kenton, Eddie Safranski, Shelly Manne, Chico Alvarez, Ray Wetzel, Harry Betts, Bob Cooper, and Art Pepper (second from right), 1947 or 1948

As leader

As a sideman

Transcriptions

Published Transcriptions:

Transcriptions available on the Internet:

Compositions

Art Pepper's compositions included "The Trip", "Red Car", "Gettin' Together", "Ol' Croix", "Tynan Time", "Minor Yours", "Diane", "Blues at Twilight", "Bijou the Poodle", "Pepper Pot", "Val's Pal", "Chili Pepper", "Art's Opus", "Brown Gold", "Zenobia", "Angel Wings", "Junior Cat", "Pepper Steak", "Straight Life", "Tenor Blooz", "Walkin' Out Blues", "Patricia", "Five More", "Minority", "Mambo de la Pinta", "Surf Ride", "Las Cuevas De Mario", "Our Song", "Among Friends", "That's Love", "Waltz Me Blues", "Labyrinth", "Make A List", "Pepper Returns", "True Blues", "Landscape", "Miss Who", "Mambo Koyama", "Ophelia", "Lost Life", "Dynaflow" with Stan Kenton, and "Funny Blues".

Bibliography

A more extensive bibliography is issued by the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt

References

  1. ^ a b c d Slonimsky, Nicolas; Theodore Baker (1992). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition. New York, New York: Schirmer Books. 
  2. ^ a b c Straight Life: The Story Of Art Pepper by Art Pepper and Laurie Pepper, Da Capo Press. This book has been widely considered one of the best musician's autobiographies.
  3. ^ See the New York Times review of the movie.
  4. ^ Rhythm-a-ning: jazz tradition and innovation in the '80s By Gary Giddins. Da Capo Press. p. 106

External links