Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pepper Adams Blog: Dale Fielder Record Byrd-Adams Songbook

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Pepper Adams Blog: Dale Fielder Records Byrd-Adams Songbook: Coming up in January, 2012 will be the release of Dale Fielder Quintet's new CD, "Each Time I Think Of You," including highlights from his D...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dale Fielder Record Byrd-Adams Songbook

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Coming up in January, 2012 will be the release of Dale Fielder Quintet's new CD, "Each Time I Think Of You," including highlights from his Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet touring project. With Fielder are Nolan Shaheed on trumpet, Jane Getz on piano, Trevor Ware on bass, and Don Littleton on drums.    Stay tuned for subsequent performances!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alexis Cole to perform Pepper Adams ballads

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Singer and pianist Alexis Cole will be performing Pepper Adams ballads at William Paterson University, Bard College, and the Tuxedo Park Library:

Thursday, Oct 20, 12:30pm, William Paterson University, Midday Concert Series in Wayne, NJ
Saturday, Oct 22, 8pm, Bard College Recital, Olin Hall, Annandale-on-Hudson NY
Sunday, Nov 20, 2pm, Tuxedo Park Library, Tuxedo Park NY

Alexis Cole collaborated with lyricist Barry Wallenstein, shaping Wallenstein's poetry to fit Adams' melodies.  She recorded all seven ballads last May in Chicago.  The date was led by pianist Jeremy Kahn, who wrote all the arrangements.  The recording will be released next Spring, featuring saxophonists Pat LaBarbera and Eric Alexander.  See for concert details.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Pepper Adams!

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Today Pepper would have been 81 years old.  The world has changed since he left us in 1986, but one thing surely hasn't: Pepper Adams is still the greatest baritone saxophone soloist in history!  Rest in peace, Pepper.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dedications to Pepper Adams

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

In our continuing effort to expand the utility of, I have reached out to Gary Smulyan, Osian Roberts, Glenn Wilson, Bruce Johnstone, Peter Leitch, and Alain Cupper to provide us with copies of their leadsheets to their Pepper dedications.  With permission, we will post these on the site.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pepper Adams Discography Update

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Here's the promotional material I'm submitting to my publisher, Scarecrow Press, regarding my upcoming book, Pepper Adams' Joy Road: An Annotated Discography.  It's the result of many years of work:

Pepper Adams' Joy Road is more than a compendium of sessions and gigs done by the greatest baritone saxophone soloist in history.  It's a fascinating overview of Adams' life and times, thanks to colorful interview vignettes, drawn from the author's unpublished conversations with Adams and other musicians.  These candid observations, made by jazz greats about Adams and his colleagues, reveal previously unknown, behind-the-scenes drama about legendary recordings made by Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Pearson, Thad Jones, David Amram, Elvin Jones, and many others.  

All types of sound material--studio recordings, private tapes and broadcasts, film scores, audience tapes, even jingles--is listed, and Adams' oeuvre is pushed back from 1956 to 1947, when Adams was sixteen years old, before he played baritone saxophone.  Because the author had access to Adams' estate, just prior to its disposition in 1987, much new discographical material is included, some verified by Adams' date books and correspondence.  

Since Adams worked in so many of the great bands of his era, Joy Road is a refreshing, sometimes irreverent walk through a large chunk of jazz history.  The book also functions as a nearly complete band discography of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the most influential big band of its time.  Adams was a founding member, and stayed with the band until a year before Jones left to relocate in Denmark.  

Significantly, Joy Road charts the ascent of Adams as an original yet still underappreciated composer.  Adams wrote 43 unique works, nearly half of them after August, 1977, when he left Jones-Lewis to tour the world as a soloist.

Joy Road, the first book ever published about Pepper Adams, is a companion to the author's forthcoming, full-length Adams biography.

Gary Carner, an independent jazz researcher, is the author of Jazz Performers and The Miles Davis Companion.  From 1984 until Adams' death in 1986, Carner collaborated with Pepper Adams on his memoirs.  Carner's Adams research spans four decades.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10, 2011: The 25th Anniversary of Pepper Adams' Death

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Today I take a moment to acknowledge the quarter century of time that has passed since Pepper's death.  It was Lewis Porter who called me on the afternoon of September 10 to tell me the sad news.  Out of respect, New York jazz radio stations were playing Pepper's music, Lewis said, and a memorial service at St. Peter's Church was to be scheduled in a few weeks.

About a month before, I spoke with Pepper on the telephone.  His at-home nurse answered, she asked me to hold on, and, after a very long pause, Pepper made his way to the phone. We spoke briefly.  It was only a few sentences of conversation.  He was very weak. Then he said, "Goodbye, Gary."  Taken by the gravity of the moment, I didn't have a chance to respond, and Pepper hung up.  I knew that the end was near, he acknowledged as much, but I remain very grateful to this day that he took the time to say goodbye to me.  Long live Pepper Adams!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jeremy Kahn Sextet to Play Chicago Jazz Festival

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Jeremy Kahn's extraordinary arrangements of Pepper Adams' ballads will be given their world premiere this Saturday, September 3, at the Chicago Jazz Festival, one of the world's great jazz events.  A few months ago, this tremendous band, under Kahn's leadership, and with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, recorded seven Adams ballads, five of which Kahn re-arranged in different genres.  This time around, the same band--Pat LaBarbara, tenor sax; Jeremy Kahn, piano; Dennis Carroll, bass; George Fludas, drums; Alexis Cole, vocals; and with Geof Bradfield on tenor in place of Alexander--will perform several of these little known ballads that will be released next April as Volume 5 of Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions.  This is Kahn's third date of Pepper tunes, all equally provocative.  Volume 1 is a quartet date, featuring baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.  Volume 2 is for jazz trio.  Samples of all the released tracks are available by clicking through the home page link "Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions," then choosing the appropriate session.  I hope to see you at the Festival.  As always, it's free.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jeremy Kahn Sextet records new Pepper Adams project

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

It was such a joy to be in Chicago last week to record all seven of Pepper Adams' ballads!  It was Pepper Adams' unfulfilled wish at the time of his death in 1986 that lyrics be written to his ballads.  Now, the lyrics that I commissioned posthumously have been recorded.  The culmination of at least a half a year of planning, Jeremy Kahn took my ideas for transforming Pepper's ballads into other styles and wrote another brilliant set of arrangements.  Transforming a dreamy, harmonically rich Strayhornesque ballad into a funk tune, for example, was just one of the ideas I had for Adams' ballads that Kahn crafted with extraordinary results.  It sure helps when you have a terrific band.  Jeremy and I brought back Ray Brown drummer George Fludas, who appears on Volumes 1 and 2 of this project.  Joining us for the first time is the very tasteful Chicago bassist Dennis Carroll, who has played with Fludas for many years.  Singer Alexis Cole, who collaborated in New York with poet/lyricist Barry Wallenstein to fit his words to Adams' compositions and, later, to Jeremy's provocative arrangements, sang on all seven tunes, each also a showcase for our two extraordinary tenor saxophonists, Pat LaBarbera and Eric Alexander.  The date will be released on CD Baby, just prior to the group's concert at the Chicago Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 3.  Please check out the date, and come on out and support the band and the music of Pepper Adams!  The concert is free.