Art Pepper

The Hollywood All-Star Sessions (Galaxy)

Record Reviews

Art Pepper

The Hollywood All-Star Sessions (Galaxy)

With the first American release of the sessions that make up this 5-CD box set, alto saxophonist Art Pepper displays the brilliant playing that characterized his astounding comeback in the last years of his life. To pigeonhole Pepper as just another "cool school" West Coast jazz musician is to belie the fiery and impassioned blowing he consistently brought to the fore. Because he was under contract at the time, these sessions were cut for the Japanese Atlas imprint between 1979-82, Pepper was initially listed as a sideman when in reality he was always the intended leader around whom all the groups were organized. The label wanted a re-creation of the West Coast sessions of the Fifties, with many of the same musicians and the same tunes. While this explains the thoroughly mainstream nature of the dates, Pepper's sparkling, mercurial playing transcends any limitations the material imposed. He's teamed in various combinations with L.A. stalwarts like drummer Shelley Manne, trumpeter Jack Shelton, trombonist Bill Watrous, and pianist Pete Jolly. Of the seven different sessions comprising the box, by far the most noteworthy are those where he jousts with fellow altoists Sonny Stitt and Lee Konitz. The styles of Stitt and Konitz differ like fire and water, but Pepper complements both accordingly with vastly different results. The two Stitt dates are primarily no-holds-barred bebop blowouts with both men locking horns and trading furious licks back and forth. Konitz is a far less combative partner and his date with Pepper is marked by an overall sense of mutual interaction and moments of sublime communication. Five months after the Konitz session, Art Pepper's lifelong race with the devil was over. The music in this box set is all the more reason to mourn his passing.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Top 10 Box Sets of 2018
The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles
The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Dec. 7, 2018

Texas Platters
Jeffrey Zeigler/Golden Hornet
The Sound of Science (Record Review)

Jeremy Steinberger, Nov. 30, 2018

More by Jay Trachtenberg
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Best Live Music Performances of 2018
Best Live Music Performances of 2018
The bands and venues that kept our critics on their feet

Dec. 28, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle