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 It's a fascinating overview of Adams' life and times, thanks to colorful interview vignettes, drawn from the author's unpublished conversations with Adams and other musicians.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!