voices I miss
Art Pepper (alto saxophone, 1925-1982) with Hampton Hawes (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Shelly Manne (drums), “Lost Life” (A. Pepper), Living Legend, 1975
. . . that Ethereal Gain
One earns by measuring the Grave –
Then – measuring the Sun –
—Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), from 288 (Franklin)
Monk, that is.
“Rhythm-a-Ning,” (T. Monk)
Art Pepper Quartet (AP, alto saxophone; Milcho Leview, piano; Tony Dumas, bass; Carl Burnett, drums), live
Tom Harrell Quintet (TH, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett, piano; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums), live, Paris, 2008
Given the number of lives that end in death, the odds of avoiding it seem slim.
Jimmy Witherspoon (vocals) with Art Pepper (alto saxophone), “Past Forty Blues,” live, Los Angeles, 1981
Art never fails to captivate. But it’s hard to watch this without mixed emotions. He looks, to these eyes, completely coked up. The next year, at the age of fifty-six, he suffered a fatal stroke.
[W]hen a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself.
—Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch (reviewed by novelist Claire Messud in the Dec./Jan. 2014 Bookforum)
A lot of musicians sound like they’re perfectly happy to be right where they are. Not this guy—he seems intent on getting somewhere else.
Art Pepper (alto saxophone), with Milcho Leviev (piano), Tony Dumas (bass), Carl Burnett, drums; “Caravan,” conversation, and more; Norway, 1980
My favorite tenor player?
A while back, I said that if I had to name my favorite alto player, there would be days where I’d say Art Pepper.
Some days this’d be the guy.
Like Pepper, he has a sound that’s immediately identifiable. It’s a sound that, like Pepper’s, holds both joy and heartbreak. And like Pepper, he’s hard—no, impossible—to pigeonhole. Swing, bebop, free: the label that’s capacious enough to contain him hasn’t been invented.
Von Freeman, “Lester Leaps In,” live, Chicago (New Apartment Lounge), 2010Vodpod videos no longer available.
My favorite alto sax player?
There are days when I’d say this is the guy.
Art Pepper, September 1, 1925-June 15, 1982
“Red Car” (excerpt), live (Art Pepper: Notes From A Jazz Survivor )
“Mambo Koyama,” live, Italy, 1981
“What’s New?” (1956)
“Over the Rainbow” (1982)
The epigraph to Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper by Art and Laurie Pepper (1979):
What is the use of talking and there is no end of talking,
There is no end of things in the heart.
—Ezra Pound [“Exile’s Letter,” from the Chinese poet Li Po; as punctuated in SL]