Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reissuing The Master and Ephemera

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all those reading this in the U.S. I've made some progress trying to get The Master and Ephemera reissued. The main imperative for reissuing The Master is to release four unissued tracks. Pepper's Ephemera, for its part, has never been issued on CD! Motema is considering the former and I'm in touch with Tony Williams, owner of Spotlite, about the latter. I'll report back when I learn more. The photos below are from my Pepper Adams archive. They're part of a stack of some 50 photos that were given to Pepper so he could choose an album cover photo. They were taken in London in September 1973.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

instagram.com/pepperadamsblog

I've spent the last week putting together a very cool gallery of 112 pictures from a wide range of sources. It includes photographs of Pepper Adams and his family, ads for gigs and all sorts of things. Lots of surprises from my collection. Please check it out: instagram.com/pepperadamsblog
Feel free to tap any photo, then like it or comment.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Otra Vez: Thad's Second Joe Williams Date Reassessed

I'm finally getting a chance to listen closely to the recording Something Old, New and Blue, originally recorded by Solid State in late April, 1968. It was billed as "Joe Williams and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra but the big band per se is not on it. In fact, the largest instrumentation on any one of the eleven tunes is 11 pieces, and that includes guitar and vibes, not part of the touring band at that time. The date was recorded in Los Angeles and supplemented with a string section. It's not known who did the string arrangements, possibly added after the session was recorded but beautifully integrated into the band arrangement.

The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra was in San Francisco on 22 April 1968 to do a TV broadcast at KQED Studios for Ralph J. Gleason's show Jazz Casual. This 30-minute episode has been released on DVD (Idem 1014) and on CD (Koch 8563). The personnel touring the West Coast at that time was:

Thad Jones cornet, flh; Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Richard Williams, Randy Brecker tp; Bob Brookmeyer vtb; Jimmy Knepper, Garnett Brown tb; Benny Powell btb; Jerome Richardson as, ss, cl, fl; Jerry Dodgion as, ss, fl; Seldon Powell ts; Eddie Daniels ts, cl, fl; Pepper Adams bs, cl; Roland Hanna p; Richard Davis b; Mel Lewis dm.

The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra had a week-long engagement at Marty's in Hollywood beginning that evening, stretching from the 22nd to the 27th. I believe Jerry Dodgion told me that the band didn't get paid for that week gig. Pepper, for his part, had a gig in Richmond, Virginia with the Duke Pearson Big Band on 28 April, then he was back in his chair behind the pole at the Village Vanguard on Monday night, 29 April.

It seems likely that Thad would draw players from his band for the Joe Williams session. Why use unknown entities? Frank Basile feels that Mel Lewis is on the date and that Jerome Richardson and Eddie Daniels might take solos. If Pepper's on any tunes, says Basile, he's only on three cuts: One More for My Baby, Everybody Loves My Baby and When I Take My Sugar to Tea. Here's my feedback after listening to these short performances, possibly intended for juke box, 45-rpm release:

1. Young Man on the Way Up: According to David Demsey, Thad wrote this chart and it sounds like it. It also sounds like Mel Lewis is playing drums.

2. Hurry on Down: Obbligato flugelhorn playing behind the opening vocals could be Thad Jones. Piano playing could be Roland Hanna.

3. When I Take My Sugar to Tea: Sounds like a Thad chart. Freddie Green style rhythm guitar playing. The short trumpet solo spots sound like Snooky Young.

4. Honeysuckle Rose: Organ in place of piano. Does anyone know of Roland Hanna playing the instrument? Hank Jones and Wynton Kelly recorded on it so why not? The organ break is very non-descript.

5. Did I Really Live: Opening flugelhorn playing could be Thad Jones. The chart sounds like Thad had a part in it and farmed out the strings to fill in afterwards, which have in this case a "Bird with String" lush romanticism. The long bass notes sound like Richard Davis.

6. Loneliness, Sorrow and Grief: This also sounds like a Thad chart. The piano solo break is non-descript. Very brief tenor playing and muted trumpet in background.

7. Imagination: Guitar and organ. Organ lines could be Roland Hanna. Flugelhorn obbligato might be Thad. Tenor solo behind vocals sound like Eddie Daniels' lacy style, and the guitar chords (behind vocals in a duet setting) sound like it could be Kenny Burrell here. Some of the band figures sound like Thad's writing.

8. One More for My Baby: Vibes added. Terry Gibbs was in LA then, right? Who else would Thad hire? Guitar might be Burrell, who I believe was living there by then too. Guitar is given prominence in this chart, further supporting someone like Burrell in the band. The chart definitely sounds like Thad's. It also sounds like Jerome Richardson on lead alto and on the alto breaks. Piano arpeggios sound like Roland Hanna.

9. Everyone Wants to Be Loved: Organ added in place of piano. This sounds like a Thad chart.

10. Everybody Loves My Baby: The most obvious Thad chart from the opening and throughout. Vibes and guitar added. Prominent use of guitar in the chart.

11. If I Were a Bell: This also sounds like a Thad chart.

Final comments: Joe Williams is terrific throughout and there's some swinging tunes and beautiful moments. I recommend picking this one up. A real obscure gem!  I'm revising my discographical entry from Pepper Adams' Joy Road thusly:

JOE WILLIAMS AND THAD JONES - SOMETHING OLD, NEW AND BLUE
680423
23-27 April 1968, Los Angeles: possible personnel: Thad Jones flh; Snooky Young tp, flh; Garnett Brown, Jimmy Knepper or Benny Powell tb; Jerome  Richardson as; Eddie Daniels ts; Pepper Adams bs; Roland Hanna p, org; Kenny Burrell g; Terry Gibbs vib; Richard Davis b; Mel Lewis dm; Joe Williams voc; string section.




Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Michael Steinman Review and Discovery

Michael Steinman gave me a terrific review in his influential blog Jazz Lives (http://jazzlives.wordpress.com/author/jazzlives/, see below). At the end of his August 5, 2014 post he tantalized me with the discovery of an audience recording he made on July 19, 1972 at the Half Note in New York. Ruby Braff was leading a quartet with Dill Jones, George Mraz and Dottie Dodgion. Toward the end of the evening Pepper sat in on a blues. It's not known why Pepper traveled in from Brooklyn on a Wednesday.

PEPPER ADAMS’ JOY ROAD: AN ANNOTATED DISCOGRAPHY by GARY CARNER

I had not known much about baritone saxophonist / composer Pepper Adams before a friend lent me a copy of Gary Carner’s book on him (now in paperback from Scarecrow Press) but I commend both Pepper and the book to you.

JOY ROAD 2

First, some music — an excerpt from an uptempo STRAIGHT, NO CHASER with Clark Terry, recorded in 1978:

The book is well-researched, rather than opinion.  Not only did its author speak with Pepper and JOY ROAD is introduced by the eminent Dan Morgenstern, but no other book I know has enthusiastic blurbs from both Phil Woods (alto) and Philip Levine (poetry).

JOY ROAD is an annotated discography.  To those not deeply involved in the music, such a work may seem a collection of marginally-useful pieces of arcane information, suitable only to those strange creatures, “record collectors,” concerned with whether that Charlie Parker solo recorded on a cardboard disc was issued on a Bolivian compact disc. I am exaggerating, but not that much.

But as an annotated bibliography would tell us a great deal about the artistic life of a writer and her relations with the marketplace, an annotated listing of a musician’s recordings would map an artistic journey. The book does not purport to be a biography — Carner is working on one now and hopes it will be finished by Adams’ centennial — but it is full of information about Adams’ life and music from 1947 to his death in 1986.  And that information is more than listings of songs, original compositions, recording data, issued or unissued performances. What makes Carner’s book more than a useful reference work is the interviews he conducted with Pepper and the people who knew and worked with him.

When I received a copy of JOY ROAD, I opened it at random, out of curiosity. I had not been terribly involved in Adams’ work — coming from a long immersion in Harry Carney and Ernie Caceres, among others.  But I stood in the middle of the living room, reading eagerly for a half hour, before remembering that a) I could sit down, and b) other tasks had to be taken care of.  If a book can “stop me in my tracks,” it is one I will read, keep, and value.

Many jazz musicians, so eloquent as creators, grow reticent when asked to speak about their art and their colleagues.  Much of what is published as treasured narrative is frankly insubstantial: “Oh, she liked her drink after the set was through!” “Did I ever tell you the story of X at the diner and what he said to the waiter?” “Y couldn’t stand Z, and always called Z names, but when they got on the stand, they blew!” If we didn’t feel that our heroes were so precious that any scrap of anecdotage, no matter how thin, brought us a step closer, no one would retell such stories. But JOY ROAD is not a collection of shards and detritus important only because they connect with someone we value. Carner’s musicians have been unsually articulate, and their stories have shape and heft.

We read about a bizarre and satisfying gig (even televised) where Pepper, David Amram, and Elvin Jones played at a Horn and Hardart automat in midtown Manhattan; Hank Jones tells Carner, “I never felt I was up to his standards, to tell you the truth.  I was reaching to play along with him”; we learn of Adams’ early work with Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman; encounters with Alfred Lion, Joihn Hammond, and Rudy Van Gelder; concert performances with Mingus and Monk; encounters with younger European musicians and elders of the tribe including Fess Williams, Cozy Cole, Joe Wilder, Benny Carter, Milt Hinton; the birth and development of the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra; an informal session in Eugene H. Smith’s loft with Adams playing piano to Zoot Sims’ tenor; recordings with Donald Byrd, Oliver Nelson, Duke Pearson, Blue Mitchell, Jimmy Rowles, Joshua Breakstone, and a hundred other notables.

Equally intriguing are glimpses into the life of a valued New York session player, for Adams was understandably in-demand for pop recordings, often as an uncredited member of the ensemble, with Aretha Franklin, Dakota Staton, Sonny and Cher, The Cowsills, The Nice, The Rascals, Brook Benton, Jon Lucien, Esther Phillips, film soundtracks, industrial films, and more.

Ultimately, JOY ROAD did a number of things for me, even though my first reading of this 550-plus page book was of necessity quick rather than deep. I found recordings I’d known nothing about — Carner has had access to Adams’ personal appointment book, and has spoken with more than a hundred musicians. But more than that, I have a sense of Adams as an individual — reading Dostoevsky, listening to Berg, encouraging younger musicians, fierce when he felt unjustly treated — and I look forward to the biography, which Carner is tentatively calling In Love with Night.

I will close with my single Pepper Adams sighting. In 1972, several friends and I followed Ruby Braff to gigs.  Although Ruby was unpredictable and unreasonably given to rage, he was always pleasant to us and allowed us to tape-record him. On July 19 of that year, my friend Stu and I came to the Half Note to record Ruby with the Welsh pianist Dill Jones, bassist George Mraz (then working with Pepper in the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis ensemble, and Dottie Dodgion on drums.  About two -thirds through the evening, where the music had been very sweet, with Ruby’s characteristic leaps through the repertoire of Louis, Duke, and Billie, a tall man ascended the stand with a baritone saxophone, was greeted warmly by the players, and the quintet launched into an extended blues in Ab.  I remember Dottie Dodgion being particularly enthusiastic about the unnamed musician’s playing, who packed his horn and went off into the warm Greenwich Village night.  Who was that unmasked man?  The subject of Carner’s book, and yes, the tape exists, although not in my possession.

To learn more about Adams, JOY ROAD, and Carner, visit his Pepper Adams website and his Pepper Adams blog, THE MASTER 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pacific Jazz Puzzles Solved


© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.


I'm excited to report that jazz researcher James Harrod has discovered the actual recording dates of the James Dean Story and Critics' Choice, Pepper Adams' second date as leader. Harrod confirmed the new information by obtaining copies of AFM contracts. It turns out Pepper did three separate August, 1957 dates for Pacific Jazz, all done at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. On August 13, from 2:00 to 6:30 p.m., Bud Shank led the first James Dean Story session with the following personnel: Charlie Mariano, Herbie Steward as; Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca ts; Pepper Adams bs; Claude Williamson p; Monty Budwig b; Mel Lewis dm; Mike Pacheco bongos; FEATURED SOLOISTS: Chet Baker tp, voc; Bud Shank as, fl.

On August 14, at almost the same time, Bud Shank was again noted as leader for a follow-up date. Its personnel was the same, but augmented with three additional brass: Ray Linn, Don Fagerquist tp: Milton Bernhart tb.

For both Shank sessions there's no listing in the AFM logs of what titles were recorded on either date. If anyone has the recording and can help me identify what tunes have the added brass, please comment below. That will help me make corrections that I'll post at pepperadams.com.

With respect to Critics Choice, Harrod wrote the following in his blog:

"Pepper Adams' other appearance on Pacific Jazz was as leader for his album, CRITIC'S CHOICE, PJM-407. Both Jepsen and Bruyninckx list the correct date of this recording session for Dick Bock, August 23, 1957. The session was at Radio Recorders from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m."

Regarding Bill Holman and Johnny Mandel's participation, Harrod emailed me this:

"The contracts just list the musicians. Holman might have retained the charts that he arranged. I believe that he has placed most of his archive with the LOC. He received arranger credit on the 14th only. Mandel is not listed as arranger on the 13th. He might have had a direct agreement with Dick Bock for his services. The back liner of P-2005 notes that Mandel arranged The SearchJimmy's Theme, and Success; with Holman arranging the other selections. Mandel might have retained his charts as well."     

Harrod also told me that Chet Baker was listed as co-leader merely as a marketing strategy to boost sales. Also, Johnny Mandel likely functioned as a conductor at both sessions.

You can read all about it at Harrod's blog Jazz West Coast Research: http://jazzwestcoastresearch.blogspot.com/2014/07/bud-shank-chet-baker-theme-music-from.html


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ephemera

I'm happy to report that Glenn Wilson at the University of Illinois is currently working with engineer Paul Wickliffe to reinstate a few solos, edit one extra track (Doctor Deep) and master the big band date recorded last year of Adams' tunes. Once this is complete and the tunes are reordered, UI will be shopping it around to labels, now that Motema has suspended their Pepper Adams series. I'll update you as I learn more. As a fall-back plan, UI has their own label and can release it that way. Again, to all of you who contributed to the 2013 Kickstarter campaign, thanks so much for your support and patience. 

In case you were worried, Motema's five-volume digital set of Pepper's music and their physical Volume 5 CD (Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams) and Sampler (of the other four dates) are still in print and available. It's just that they will not continue building the series with new volumes.

A few other things are going on. Yesterday (Friday, July 25, 2014) Steve Cerra reprinted his lengthy profile of Pepper Adams in his important blog Jazz Profiles. His piece includes a transcript of Ben Sidran's marvelous 1986 interview with Pepper for NPR. You can listen to the interview at pepperadams.com. Along with the Pepper profile, Cerra also was very kind to reprint Dan Morgenstern's foreword and my preface to Pepper Adams' Joy Road. I'm very grateful to Steve for all the support he's given me and I look forward to his forthcoming review/interview.

Also forthcoming, Bert Vuijsje in The Netherlands will be reviewing my Pepper book in either Dutch or Flemish. Michael Steinman has also agreed to review it on his blog Jazz Lives.

I'm excited that in the next month or so the Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band, led by trombonist Brad Jepson, will be performing some Pepper charts I've commissioned. That's worth the three-hour roundtrip drive from Georgia! Also, Aaron Lington's big band chart on Pepper's sumptuous ballad Now in Our Lives has been completed and he's looking to get it recorded so it can be posted at pepperadams.com. Any takers?

Lastly, I've been invited to contribute a piece on Pepper Adams and Detroit for a collection of pieces on Detroit's musical history. It's being assembled by ML Liebler for Wayne State University Press, Pepper's alma mater.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Further Definitions: Pepper Adams with the Per Husby Trio, 1979

Thanks to drummer Espun Rud, who located his 1979 appointment book, I now have definitive information on Pepper Adams' 1979 tour of Norway with pianist Per Husby. Thanks too to Husby for forwarding me the data. Gaps below indicate venues that still remain unknown. It's also not known if the gigs of 23-24 March were done at the same place. A photo of the band is linked from the Chronology at pepperadams.com and can be seen at pepperadams.com's Photos section.

Mar 12: Queens NY: Adams flies to Norway by way of Stockholm. 
Mar 13: Stavanger, Norway: Per Husby gig at __________with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 14: Stord, Norway: Per Husby gig at the Jazzforum, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 15: Bergen, Norway: Per Husby gig, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 16-18: Voss, Norway: Per Husby gig at the Voss Jazz Festival, with Atle Hammer, Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 19: Gjovik, Norway: Per Husby gig at Torvetten, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 20: Lillehammer, Norway: Per Husby gig at the Blue Note, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 21: Oslo: Per Husby gig at Club 7, with Atle Hammer, Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 22: Bodo: Per Husby gig at ____________, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 23: Tromso: Per Husby gig at ____________, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 24: Tromso: Per Husby gig at ____________, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 25: Trondheim, Norway: Per Husby gig at the Trubadur, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 26: Trondheim: Off day.
Mar 27: Kristiansund, Norway: Per Husby gig at _________, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud.
Mar 28: Molde, Norway: Per Husby gig at Storyville, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. 
Mar 29: Orsta: Per Husby gig at Porse Jazzklubb, with Bjorn Alterhaug and Espen Rud. (Photo from Orsta)
Mar 30: Bergen, Norway: Travel day. Adams flies to Stockholm.
Mar 31: Stockholm: Unknown event or off day.