The favorite format of
Los Angeles' alto saxophonist
Art Pepper (1925)
was the sax-piano-bass-drums quartet, first
experimented on Discoveries, that contained the first recording
of his signature theme, Straight Life (august 1954).
After a three-year jail stay,
Art Pepper Quartet (november 1956), that delivered his originals
Diane, Art Opus, Pepper Pot,
Blues At Twilight and Val's Pals, presented him in top form.
Red Garland on piano and Paul Chambers on bass helped refine the sound on
the covers of Meets the Rhythm Section (january 1957),
and on Omega Alpha (april 1957), that was not released for decades but
contained his Surf Ride.
His style peaked with the brief "modern jazz classics" that he recorded with the
11-piece Marty Paich Orchestra on Plus Eleven (march 1959).
The format was augmented with Conte Candoli on trumpet for the longer tracks of
Gettin' Together (february 1960), that featured Miles Davis' session-men
(pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb),
and introduced his originals Bijou the Poodle and
Gettin' Together, besides reworking Diane.
A less competent quartet recorded Intensity (november 1960), that contains
After serving a long prison sentence and undergoing drug rehabilitation,
Pepper staged an emotional comeback with
Living Legend (august 1975), containing superb compositions such as
Ophelia and Lost Life played by
Hampton Hawes on piano, Charlie Haden on bass and Shelly Manne on drums;
and with The Trip (september 1976), featuring Elvin Jones' drumming,
a sound influenced by John Coltrane,
the nine-minute title-track and Michel Legrand's The Summer Knows.
The quartet format remained his favorite also on the better
No Limit (march 1977), that contained only four tracks, ranging from seven
to 13 minutes in length, three of them original Pepper compositions:
Rita-San, My Laurie and Mambo de la Pinta.
Straight Life (september 1979), that contained
an eleven-minute version of Kurt Weill's September Song
and a ten-minute version of Eden Ahbez's Nature Boy,
Winter Moon (september 1980), with a string ensemble arranged by Bill Holman and Jimmy Bond, were slightly less imaginative, but equally touching.
He also composed the soundtrack The Gauntlet (september 1977).
Pepper died in 1982.
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