Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pepper Adams Anthology

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

I've decided to edit an anthology of articles about Pepper. It would be a beautiful complement to my other two Pepper books (including the biography, which I've begun) and CDs. Anyone interested in contributing? It needs to be published by Fall, 2015, when another Pepper tour takes place. That means it would have to be finished by the end of 2014. Here's what I have so far:

1. Gary Carner, Rue Serpente (from Jazz Forschung)
2. Gary Carner, overview of Pepper's style from master's thesis
3. John Vana, Pepper Adams' Early Solo Style to 1960
4. Aaron Lington, excerpt from Pepper dissertation

5. Ken Kellett: "I Remember Pepper"
6. Frank Griffith: Reminiscences of Pepper and arranging Rue Serpente and Reflectory
7. Barry Wallenstein: Lyrics to Eight Adams Compositions.
8. Tony Faulkner: A Study of Pepper's Compositions
9. Jim Merod: Overview of Pepper's recordings
10. Bevan Manson: Compositional Aspects of Pepper's Tunes
11. Various previously published articles, interviews, and liner notes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Duke Ellington Gig in Rochester NY Discovered

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Thanks to a huge database of Ellington gigs available on-line, I was able to redefine when Pepper was befriended by Rex Stewart and where it took place. The site is  

Here's a taste from my forthcoming Pepper biography:

The following March, after he purchased his first saxophone, Pepper attended all three performances of the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the Temple Theatre, a movie palace built in 1909 at 35 Clinton Avenue South in downtown Rochester. On March 5, 1944, the last night of the engagement, Ellington trumpeter Rex Stewart was curious about the enthusiastic, short-haired thirteen-year-old kid with horn-rimmed glasses he noticed sitting by himself in the balcony. Intrigued, Stewart made his way upstairs, introduced himself, then brought Adams backstage to meet Ellington's illustrious musicians.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cleo Adams Burial Plot Discovered

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Thanks to Google, I somehow managed to find the appropriate site with a listing of those buried at cemetaries in Columbia City, Indiana. Sure enough, I discovered that Pepper's mother, Cleo, was buried at South Park Cemetery at 1500 South State Road 205 in Columbia City in Section 2, Row 26, Stone 1. Next to her is ostensibly her mother, Minnie B. Coyle. For me, this is just the beginning of discovering Pepper's maternal antecedents. I've sent emails to the Mayor's office and to the Genealogical Society of Whitley County asking for assistance in finding where Pepper lived with his mother's family c. 1931-1934.

Big Band CD Update

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

There's been some movement over the last week regarding the release of The Complete Pepper Adams, Volume 6. Motema is now proposing a October 8, 2014 release, to coincide with Pepper's 84th birthday, along with a tour to celebrate his music that would include events in Chicago, Virginia and North Carolina, New York City, and London. No decision has been made about whether the CD will be released physically or digitally, but the basic plan is to do college clinics and lectures (as on the previous two tours), but also concerts in Chicago, New York, and London. One idea is to get the University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band to play Chicago's Jazz Showcase, then fly them over to the London Jazz Festival in mid-November, along with a 3-bari group including Gary Smulyan. Between Adams' birthday and the London events, the intervening time could be filled with gigs hither and yon, including several in New York. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Readers Appreciated

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to all my friends who took the time to read the Prologue and Chapter 1 of my Pepper Adams biography in progress. Thanks too to those who commented on the proposed title of the book.
I've made some tweaks to the Prologue and I'm still reassessing Chapter 1.

It's a windy, rainy day here north of Atlanta, so I'm curling up with two books that are indispensable to would-be biographers: Milton Lomask's The Biographer's Craft and Leon Edel's Writing Lives: Pricipia Biographica.  There's so much wisdom in these works.

Kickstarter gifts in gratitude for donations to Volume 6 (big band date) of my Pepper Adams CD project and recent Pepper Adams book/concert tour will be mailed starting next week. Those expecting Tony Faulkner's arranging manuscript should expect a slight delay, as he's just now back in England working on it.  Those who are expecting Skype arranging lessons should hear from Faulkner soon to schedule them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Over the last week I've been developing the first chapter of my Pepper Adams biography. So far it's a short overview of how isolation and being on his own informed Pepper's life. I'm using the chapter to set a tone for the book, and as a bridge to the pivotal early moment in Adams' life, described at length in Chapter 2, when Adams first borrows a baritone sax from Grinnell's, the music store he was working at for only a few weeks as a Christmas extra in 1947. In Chapter 1 I've also written about trumpeter Rex Stewart, who became a very significant father figure to Pepper two years after Pepper's father died, when Pepper was nine years old.

The working title of my book is Pepper Adams: Jazz King of the Baritone Sax.  Any feedback on the title? My editor at Scarecrow thinks the subtitle is a logical way to market the book to a larger audience.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pepper Biography Begun

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Throughout my recent book and concert tour, people asked me when they can expect to read my companion Pepper Adams biography. I joked that quality takes time, or that it would certainly take less time to do the biography than the nearly thirty years it took me to finish Joy Road. Privately, however, I wasn't sure when I'd start writing, and I knew that it would take many years to do a full-length biography worthy of him. 

Well, I'm really happy to report that, after being inspired last night by the beautifully crafted film The Book Thief, I've begun writing the biography. This morning I woke up early and starting sketching out out the Prologue and first two chapters.

I've had similar moments before. After the birth of my daughter, for example, I wrote what I thought was the opening chapter. But finding a narrative voice and the right way to begin has been difficult. Finding an argument and acknowledging that I've finally gotten to a place where I understand Pepper's achievements have been difficult too. Fortunately, the two lecture/book tours I've done this year and last have helped me to think long and hard about Pepper, to ascertain his place, and get some sense of perspective. Now I'm on my way. The book is contracted to Scarecrow. When will it be published? I'm shooting for 2020. I like the sound of 20-20.