Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ephemera to be Reissued in 2015!

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Just a few minutes ago I awoke to an email from Tony Williams, owner of Spotlite Records. Williams wanted to let me know that he transferred from the original master all seven of the magical tracks from Pepper Adams' date Ephemera that he produced 41 years ago. Williams is mailing me a copy of the CD today. What a Christmas gift!

Many of you know that Ephemera is one of Adams' greatest achievements. It was recorded at a time when Pepper was out of fashion and couldn't get a recording date as a leader. It had been five years since his Encounter session was recorded. Even though that date was eventually sold to Prestige, it was independently produced by Fred Norsworthy and funded by Norsworthy's girlfriend. The intent was to sell it to an interested party but no one was interested! Eventually, Don Schlitten at Prestige took it, which of course meant for virtually nothing and with limited distribution.

If you consider the stretch of time between Ephemera and when Adams was last recorded by a commerical entity, it had been eight years since the Thad Jones-Pepper Adams Quintet date Mean What You Say was done for Milestone and eleven years since Adams' last date for Motown. That one remains unreleased and in Universal's vaults.

Ephemera is significant on several levels. For one thing it includes four original compositions by Pepper Adams. He had never written more than two tunes for any of his previous dates. Those tunes--Patrice, Hellure, Ephemera and Civilization and Its Discontents--stand as some of Pepper's greatest achievements as a composer. In fact, Adams felt that Ephemera was his greatest piece. I'm inclined to agree, though Patrice and Civ is right up there with it. Additonally, the quartet plays the standards Bouncing with Bud and Jitterbug Waltz, plus the Thad Jones ballad Quiet Lady. The playing is outstanding!

The date, recorded in London on 9-10 September 1973, uses the extraordinary rhythm section of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra: Roland Hanna, George Mraz and Mel Lewis. All tracks are from the 10th because the first day was marred by all sorts of bizarre technical difficulties. Because of that, Adams asked Williams to destroy everything from the 9th. 

Jones-Lewis was on tour of Europe at the time. As some of you know, Adams was right at home with the rhythm section and visa versa. Pepper and Mel were very close musical buddies since 1956. Mraz was Pepper's all-time favorite bass player. And Roland was a Detroiter. Need I say more? 

How can it be that this date has never been issued on CD? Well, saxophonist Dale Fielder and I are correcting that injustice. Fielder, based in Los Angeles, operates Clarion Jazz. He'll be putting the date out, we hope in early September in time to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the recording and in time for Christmas sales. Fielder will be repackaging and mastering the recording, possibly with the help of engineer Jim Merod (a passionate Pepper Adams fan). I'll be writing a new essay and providing photographs, never before seen, that were taken by Jill Freedman at the London photo shoot.