Kevin Bales Quartet | Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions  Volume 3

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Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions Volume 3

by Kevin Bales Quartet

One of America's great jazz pianists, paired with the power guitar playing of Barry Greene, play 11 unknown tunes by "The Master," saxophonist Pepper Adams.
Genre: Jazz: Hard Bop
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cindy's Tune
4:50 $0.99
2. Lovers of Their Time
6:39 $0.99
3. Twelfth and Pingree
4:07 $0.99
4. Ad Astra
7:04 $0.99
5. Like . . . What Is This
4:02 $0.99
6. Bossallegro
7:14 $0.99
7. Claudette's Way
5:14 $0.99
8. Mary's Blues
5:05 $0.99
9. Trentino
5:05 $0.99
10. Apothegm
3:52 $0.99
11. Inanout
3:33 $0.99
12. Cindy's Tune (alternate)
4:55 $0.99
13. Like . . . What Is This (alternate)
4:56 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This is very likely the only time in jazz recorded history where all of the compositions of a jazz artist have been collected in one place. 43 tunes on 5 CDs survey the compositional landscape of baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams (1930-1986), who wrote small group features, many on his albums as a leader. Half of his compositional output was written after 1977, when he left the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra to tour the world as a soloist. The other half was written for recordings made over a 21 year stretch--some his, many on dates as a sideman. Virtually all of Adams's compositions are on long out-of-print, obscure record labels, such as San Francisco, Mode, and Spotlite, thus, completely overlooked and unheard. Adams's oeuvre can be loosely grouped into the following categories: Swingers (18), Ballads (7), Blues (7), Latin (5), Rhythm Changes (3), Waltzes (3). Possibly most idiomatic is his body of Strayhorneque ballads. Adams considered Ephemera to be his greatest composition. For this third of four dates, Atlanta born pianist and arranger Kevin Bales has refashioned eleven Adams originals to showcase his playing and writing, as well as the extraordinary artistry of guitarist Barry Greene. Bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Leon Anderson round out the terrific rhythm section.
Gary Carner

In 1984, at the age of 28, I had the good fortune of meeting saxophonist Pepper Adams. He was coming off a serious leg accident, that had kept him incapacitated and house-bound for six months, and I was looking to interview a jazz musician at length for a masters thesis I needed to complete for my degree at City College. Little did I know that he would die two years later and that I would dedicate the rest of my life to preserving his legacy.

We met at regular intervals throughout the summer, taping interviews about his glorious life. He was very prepared, and he spoke in depth about his early life, his experiences with some of the great musicians of our time, and his various recordings. Things were moving along beautifully; so much so that I felt we had the beginnings of a terrific co-written autobiography. Seven months later, however, on a tour of Sweden, Adams was diagnosed with lung cancer, and for almost two years he would fight for his life. We saw each other and spoke on the phone sporadically. Without his active participation, the project took a different turn as I moved to Boston to pursue a Ph.D. I knew I was well along on the biography. Now it was time to focus on the discographical and musicological aspects of Adams's work.

I began the intense archeology necessary to assess forty years of recordings. I listened closely to his playing. I learned about his terrific body of 43 compositions, scattered about on obscure LPs made by even more obscure labels here and abroad. I began to interview his musicians and friends. I got a contract from the Smithsonian to write Pepper's biography. But, most importantly for me, something happened that changed my life forever. Pepper's closest friend, pianist Tommy Flanagan, visited Pepper at his home four days before Pepper died. On Pepper's nightstand, Tommy told me, was my manuscript, about 300 pages of interview material. Flanagan told me that Pepper was very frail and lapsing in and out of coma. But once, when he came to, he tried feebly to nudge with his fingers the stack of material in Tommy's direction, as if to draw attention to it, as if to give it weight, as if to suggest that this was what would be left behind about him after his death. Then and there, as the power of Flanagan's story washed over me, I knew that I would dedicate my life to preserving Pepper's legacy.

It's now 24 years later and this is exactly what I've done. Adams has become my life's purpose. I have collated his papers, his music, and the remains of his estate. The first of two books I'm doing about him, an annotated discography, is now completed. I'm well along on his full-length biography too. But those amazing tunes? I had done the work and unearthed them. What was I to do?

About five years ago I thought of something. A saxophonist in Chicago, Ron Kolber, told me that Pepper had sent him copies of most of his leadsheets about three weeks before he passed away. Pepper told him, "Protect them with your life!" and, fortunately, he had. Maybe I should produce a CD of Pepper tunes? That seemed interesting. But one night at the Village Vanguard, it hit me like a thunderbolt: "ALL of them!" I thought. One recording wouldn't be enough. "It's about the legacy," I remembered." I would have to record all of them.

So this is what I've done. I've self-produced, at my own expense so it's done the right way, all 43 compositions by four different small groups. I handpicked the musicians and tunes for each to play. Two CDs, for trio and quartet, are led by the terrific Chicago pianist and arranger Jeremy Kahn, who has done so much to breathe new life into Pepper's music with fascinating introductions and codas. One of his dates features baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, widely regarded as today's leading soloist. A third recording, led by Atlanta pianist Kevin Bales, uses the the guitar of Barry Greene as the lead voice in a quartet setting. It's rare in jazz that two top soloists play at this high a level. Bales transcribed several tunes from the original recordings, as did saxophonist Frank Basile, who laboriously transcribed even more of Pepper's early tunes, which he arranged on his date for trio, quartet, quintet, and sextet. On his date is bassist Dennis Irwin, who would pass away about a half a year later.

What we have here is the complete body of work by a gifted and original jazz composer. Four terrific recordings as played by musicians exceedingly passionate about the music. What a joy this has been for me! And for the musicians too, since many of them played with Adams when they were young and impressionable.

Pepper Adams died at 55, much too young, and with so much music still inside him that we'll never know. What we can know is his great body of work that he left for us to discover. In his last few years of life, a new generation of musicians--some of whom are on these recordings--were hired by Adams for club dates. They knew in their bones that his book of music was innovative. As Mendelssohn did for Bach so many centuries ago, I'm trying to tell the world, with these musicians as my vehicle, about this extraordinary collection of tunes that has for far too long been completely overlooked. I think it's time for Pepper's star to ascend. Thanks for your help!

Gary Carner
Braselton GA



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