Art Pepper Unreleased Art Vol. III Live At The Winery Sept. 6, 1976
The legacy of one of the greatest alto voices since Charlie Parker lives on!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
With perhaps the exception of Lee Konitz, the artistry of Art Pepper is perhaps the singular most important voice coming from the ranks of the alto saxophone since the passing of the great Charlie Parker.
The particular gig spotlighted with this release was from the start of Art's last comeback although despite a myriad of personal issues the artistic brilliance that is Art Pepper never really goes away, it merely became sidetracked on occasion. The ensemble on this particular date included pianist Smith Dobson, bassist Jim Nichols and drummer Brad Bilhorn. Ballads were the lyrical wheelhouse of Art Pepper and the cover of "Here's That Rainy Day" is perhaps one of those rare tunes that can easily be identified with an instrumentalist with the magic to transform the number into a soulful wonderland of harmonic possibilities. "Ophelia" was a tune composed for Art's drug-addicted second wife and is chameleon like in presentation, changing colors and meters but all with a smoldering swing that Pepper seemed to have the uncanny ability to unleash at a moments notice. "What Laurie Likes" is an Art Pepper original that takes a walk on the funk side and as typical for Pepper's vision, slightly ahead of the curve. Closing out this incredibly engaging set we have "Saratoga Blues." Arguably we have Art Pepper as perhaps the finest lyrical player with a soulful and soul filled approach to ballads and blues that places him well ahead of the pack both then and now.
Art Pepper's widow, Laurie Pepper is still perusing a plethora of material that is obviously of the highest quality and should afford those that perhaps are not as familiar with Pepper's gift the opportunity to become acquainted with an artist that embodies the strictest definition of the word virtuoso. Much like Chet Baker and Bill Evans, Art Pepper left us way too soon.
You never review greatness, you celebrate. Nevertheless, a five star effort.
Tracks: Caravan; Ophelia; Here's That Rainy Day; What Laurie Likes" Straight Life; Saratoga Blues.
Personnel: Art Pepper: Alto Saxophone; Smith Dobson: Piano; Jim Nichols: Bass; Brad Bilhorn: Drums.