Saturday, August 15, 2015

On the Trail . . . in August

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

I'm closing up some lose ends with my Pepper Adams tape and CD collection. I'm doing this because I have stuff scattered about and my co-author, John Vana, is digitizing all my Pepper material for posterity--and so he can study it for our Pepper book. Here's a rather typical Saturday-in-the-life-of-Gary-Carner.

The first mystery tape I encountered this morning is a very well-recorded quintet date for trumpet/flugelhorn, baritone and rhythm section with the following tunes itemized on the tape box:

Side 1:
Mean What You Say
In a Sentimental Mood

Side 2: 
On the Trail
I Can't Get Started

From the bass sound, I can assess it's a post-'60s audience tape or broadcast, due to the slightly nasal pickup sound with low action. The band is really excellent and Pepper is brilliant and harmonically daring. What is this?

The drums sound like plastic heads, further supporting the 1970s or 1980s timeline. It sounds like a broadcast because it's so well recorded. The flugelhorn solo on "I Can't Get Started" is masterful. I wonder if it's Tom Harrell or Denny Christianson? Well, fortunately, it's a broadcast and Pepper stepped in to announce the first two tracks on Side 2. Then, the announcer cited in Swedish that the brass player is Jan Allan! What is this? Off to the Chronology? No, not necessary because the announcer cited the band: Pepper and Allan with Steffan Abeleen, Palle Danielsson and Alex Riel. Oh, OK, it's Pepper at Restaurant Guldhattan in Stockholm on 6 November 1972. Pepper's "On The Trail" solo is breathtaking, and, in his usually understated and amusing style, Pepper's announcement after the applause is as follows: 

"Thank you very much. We assume that you recognize the first two songs. They were 'On the Trail,' from the Grand Canyon Suite of Ferde Grofe. We're not going to play the rest of the Grand Canyon Suite this evening, however (chuckles), and that was 'I Can't Get Started.'" 

I went on to listen to the entire broadcast. Nothing else from Pepper equates to the sheer brilliance of his "On the Trail" solo. It's simply one of his greatest performances from that period. I suspect he was very happy as a newly traveling solo artist in Europe. He only started three years prior--in mid December, 1969 in Copenhagen, for a gig at Montmartre. 

Another amusing Pepper quip from the Stockholm broadcast: After playing "'Tis," (Thad Jones' tune that Pepper customarily played as a theme to end his sets), Pepper says: "So you know in the future, that means 'intermission' (chuckles)."

My second mystery tape sounds to me like the Shorty Rogers Big Band from the late 1950s. There's plenty of flugelhorn features and solos for various members of the band. This is a live thing, but possibly not from the Bobby Troup TV show from California, because it doesn't sounds like a polite TV audience. Two bari solos in it were definitely not Pepper. "Mountain Greenery" was part of his book back then and they play that. Then again, with some of the small group things, it does feel like a TV show.

Now to a few CDs that have been knocking around. From Dave Schiff I received Pepper and Roland Hanna at the Wilmington Music School. Here's the entry:

New Entry
21 June 1974, audience recording, Wilmington Music School, Wilmington DE: Wayne Andre, Steve Koontz tb; Dave Schiff fl, ts; Pepper Adams bs; Roland Hanna p; Don Schiff b; possibly Gary Griswold or Newman Barker dm.

a Quiet Lady
b Civilization and Its Discontents
c Straight, No Chaser
d Royal Garden Blues

On -c and -d, Andre and Koontz only. Schiff on ts.

From Thomas Hustad, the Ruby Braff historian, I received the following. Pepper is dazzling!:

New Entry:
19 July 1972, audience recording, Half Note, New York: Ruby Braff cornet; Pepper Adams bs; Dill Jones p; George Mraz b; Dottie Dodgion dm.

a Blues in A-Flat

This recording was discussed in Michael Steinman's blog "Jazz Lives" (, published on 5 August 2014: 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 A-flat. 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."

Now, a real mystery, or so it seemed at the time. I acquired a CD that said "Pepper Adams in San Remo, 1981." Pepper wrote the opening tune on the CD, Conjuration, in 1979 but the second tune, Dobbin', was written in 1983. Already, the recording date on the CD is suspect. Fortunately, Pepper announced pianist Ricardo Zegna and bassist Dodo Goya. That pins it down some. But before a search, first the other tunes. Doctor Deep was written in 1982. No real help there. The drumming is very pronounced and aggressive in an American kind of brash way. I'm starting to suspect drummer Ronnie Burrage. And, sure enough, it's listed in my Joy Road thusly, just poorly marked on my CD:

c15 October 1985, RAI TV broadcast, Salon delle Feste, San Remo Jazz Festival, San Remo, Italy: Pepper Adams bs*; Ricardo Zegna p; Dodo Goya b; Ronnie Burrage dm.

a Conjuration*
b Dobbin'*
c unknown waltz
d unknown blues
e Doctor Deep*

One last thing I recorded in my Pepper book but didn't identify very well is a Thad-Mel thing from Scandinavia in August, 1977. All the tempos are faster than usual, particularly "Low Down." This was the first tour for Richard Perry and Dick Oatts (who plays tenor). Jerry Dodgion and Ed Xiques were still in the band in the alto chairs. Dodgion's chart on "Oregon Grinder" gets a great workout.

                                                                 (Jan Allan)