This 2012 disc gathers all known sides cut during a July 26, 1956 confab led by West Coast cool purveyors Chet Baker (trumpet) and Art Pepper (alto sax). Keen-eyed enthusiasts will note that this particular date occurred during a remarkable week – July 23 through July 31 – of sessions held at the behest of Pacific Jazz label owner and producer Dick Bock at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles. Recordings made during this week not only inform The Route, but three other long-players as well: Let's Get Lost, Chet Baker & Crew, and At the Forum Theater. These were likewise the first sides cut by Baker since returning from his triumphant and extended stay in Europe.
Riccardo Chailly was born into a musical family in Milan. He studied at the conservatories in Milan and Perugia and received specialized training in conducting from Franco Ferrara at his Siena summer courses. At the age of 20, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at Milan’s La Scala. He made his opera debut there in 1978 and was soon in great demand at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls.
While not a universally praised piece of the Art Blakey discography, The African Beat is quite engaging. Yusef Lateef is the only horn player, featured on oboe, flute, tenor sax, cow horn, and thumb piano with Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, but trombonist Curtis Fuller is only heard playing tympani – it was that kind of session. The drum ensemble includes Chief Bey, along with five other percussionists on conboro, log, and bata drums with penny whistles, gongs, congas, and African maracas. This is reminiscent of Lateef's more exotic sessions from the same time period, but quite unlike other Blue Note releases from the early '60s.
Lone Hill Jazz presents a package of vintage cool West Coast jazz, bringing to light 16 excellent tracks that have all but fallen through the cracks over the years. On Monday, November 26, 1956 (which just happened to be the day that Tommy Dorsey died), tenor saxophonists Ted Brown and Warne Marsh brought their working quintet into a Los Angeles recording studio to make Brown's first album as a leader, with special guest alto saxophonist Art Pepper adding his own third dimension.
One of the greatest West Coast jazz LPs of all time! Art Pepper plays beautiful spiralling alto lines with a tight quartet that includes Russ Freeman on piano, Chuck Flores on drums, and Ben Tucker on bass. The whole thing swings in a way that's tough to find on some of Pepper's other albums from the time, and the track list includes "Dianne's Dilemma", "Blues In", "Blues Out", and "Cool Bunny".
Blue Note's The Return of Art Pepper: The Complete Art Pepper Aladdin Recordings compiles the 13 final masters that the alto saxophonist recorded for Aladdin between August 1956 and January 1957. These are titled The Return of Art Pepper, since they were recorded shortly after he completed a jail sentence in 1956. As a result, Pepper's chops are a little rusty, but you can hear that he still has a passion for playing, and he does improve over the course of these tracks. For serious Pepper fans, it's worth a listen, but for less dedicated fans, there are better places to become acquainted with his work.
Some of the finer CTI recordings of the late '70s were those led by flugelhornist Art Farmer. Although the emphasis was generally on obscure material (in this case Farmer plays one original, two songs by Dave Grusin and one piece by pianist Fritz Pauer) and often featured musicians who did not normally play together, the results were generally quite rewarding. For this CTI LP (long out-of-print), the focus is almost entirely on Farmer who is joined by keyboardist Grusin, guitarist Eric Gale, flutist Jeremy Steig, either Will Lee or George Mraz on bass and drummer Steve Gadd. The moody music holds one's interest throughout.