While correct, "Annotated Discography" by no means says all about this fascinating record of a great musician's career and life. For decades, Gary Carner has
devoted himself to tracing every musical step by Pepper Adams, from the very first teenaged endeavor, captured by a recording device, professional or amateur,
issued or not. And he has enhanced the carefully gathered discographical details with additional information, musical, technical and personal, about the performance circumstances, more often than not obtained from participants and observers, as well as from interviews, published and personal, with the man himself.
Quite a man, too--not only one of the outstanding practitioners of the baritone saxophone, but a brilliant, complicated guy, whom I had the distinct pleasure of knowing.
If there is a subtext here, it would be the fact that Pepper was the only white musician in the "Detroit Invasion" that descended upon the New York jazz scene in the late
1950s, accepted as a "primus inter pares" by his black colleagues--and friends. Early on, you will find an amusing anecdote about Alfred Lion's first reaction to Pepper's
music: the founder of Blue Note Records refused to believe that the player on the demo tape the young baritonist had submitted was not black, going so far as to calling him a liar. Pepper would of course go on to participate in many a Blue Note session--if Lion ever apologized, we'll never know.
Good discographies are certainly very useful tools, but it is highly uncommon for a discography, even an annotated one, to also qualify as a good read. But "Pepper Adams'
Joy Road" most definitely is. It brings the man as well as his music to life. Read--and listen--well!