An expanded version of SV-115 Art Pepper - Surf Ride. The first date finds the alto saxophonist in fine form, leading a quartet consisting of pianist Hampton Hawes, bassist Joe Mondragon, and drummer Larry Bunker. Pepper primarily sticks to originals, though he offers a warm rendition of the standard "These Foolish Things" as well. Pepper sounds a little more adventurous on the second date, accompanied by pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Bob Whitlock, and drummer Bobby White. Two takes of "Chili Pepper" (a Latin-flavored reworking of the venerable "Tea for Two"), two versions of the rapid-fire "Suzy the Poodle" (based upon "[Back Home Again In] Indiana"), a lush arrangement of the ballad "Everything Happens to Me," and a swinging performance of Lester Young's "Tickle Toe" (which incorporates cornetist Bix Beiderbecke's tag from the recording of Paul Whiteman's "When") make up this session.
This giant 16-CD Galaxy set features Pepper at the peak of his powers. Most of the performances are in a quartet setting, although this collection also includes a session with strings, five unaccompanied alto solos (he also plays clarinet on a few tracks), and a pair of CDs in which Pepper performs duets with pianist George Cables. Although more general collectors may want to acquire some of the individual sessions first (most of which are available separately on CD), the more dedicated jazz fans are advised to save their money and acquire this essential package.
The third of three volumes chronicling Pepper's complete Aladdin recordings, Blue Note's Art of Pepper, Vol. 3 finds the West Coast alto saxophonist in top form over the course of 12 stunning cuts. Recorded in 1957, the set takes in both Pepper originals ("Holiday Flight," "Surf Ride") and choice standards ("Long Ago and Faraway," "Without a Song"). There's also a fine cover of the rare Bud Powell cut "Webb City." Topped off with excellent work by pianist Carl Perkins, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Chuck Flores, this collection is a must-have for all Pepper fans.
Altoist Art Pepper recorded many albums for the Galaxy label during 1979-1982, all of which have been reissued in a massive 16-CD "complete" box set. This single CD is pretty definitive and serves as a perfect introduction to Pepper's second (and most rewarding) period. Not only is there a superior version of Pepper's famous title cut but very emotional (and explorative) renditions of "September Song" and "Nature Boy." Filling out this quartet set (which also features pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Red Mitchell, and drummer Billy Higgins) are "Surf Ride," "Make a List," and "Long Ago and Far Away." Brilliant music.
This 3-cd Art Pepper box (Mosaic Select #15) is about as hip as it gets, essential if you're into Pepper or mid-'50's West Coast jazz in general.
Mosaic is Michael Cuscuna's jazz collector label, well-known for limited edition collections re-mastered from original master tapes. If you're not familiar with the label, be assured that this is a professionally produced set of the highest quality. Be aware, too, that these sets do go out of print, so if this one looks like something you'll like, now's the time to pick it up. ~ Amazon