Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pepper Adams in the U.S. Army

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

While reconstructing the contours of Pepper Adams' life, I've found that researching his time in the U.S. Army has been one of my biggest challenges. When I interviewed him at length in 1984 he didn't want to discuss his war experiences at all. They were simply too painful for him to retell. The fact that Army records from the 1950s burned in a fire a number of years ago hasn't made things any easier. Pepper did tell me that he enlisted to get preferential treatment, knowing that he was about to get drafted. But other than a few interviews I've done with Marv Holladay and Norb Grey, and a few documents I've found in Pepper's materials, I really don't know too much about that time.

The framework of Pepper's Army experience, as I've pieced together at and updated from my previous post of 24 May 2014 is as follows:
July 12: Detroit: Adams enlists in the U.S. Army. He was hoping to fail the induction physical and be found unfit for service.

cJuly 15: Waynesville MO: Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood.
cSept 1: Waynesville MO: Five months with the 6th Armored Division Band at Ft. Leonard Wood. Bill Evans and Tommy Flanagan were both at the post in other units.
Feb: Waynesville MO: Adams organizes a Special Services band at Ft. Leonard Wood for future performances in Korea.
Spring: Waynesville MO: A
s a ruse engineered by Charlie Parker (posing as Adams' mother's doctor), Adams receives an emergency furlough from Ft. Leonard Wood so that Adams could visit Parker in Kansas City. When Adams arrives at the club and learns that Parker is missing from his gig, Adams sees a movie, stays at the Y, then returns to the base the following day.
July: Ann Arbor MI: Hugh Jackson private recording with Bu Bu Turner, et al. Adams likely on 'Terminal Leave.'July-Aug: Pontiac MI: While on "Terminal Leave," Adams goes to Thad Jones' parent's house for a jam session, soon after meeting Thad for the first time. Adams and Jones spend some additional time together during the last days of Adams' leave.
cOct 10: San Francisco: Adams is shipped off to Korea, possibly on the USS General Walker,
a ship that transported 5,000 troops plus materiel to the staging area of Camp Drake.
cOct 29: Asaka, Japan: Adams is stationed at Camp Drake, awaiting re-assignment in Korea.

bearly Nov: Inchon, Korea: Adams arrives in Korea.
cNov 15: Korea: Adams first performance in the Eighth Army's 10th Special Services band.

Apr 5: near Kunsan, Korea: Tommy Flanagan trio, plus altoist Jerry Lehmeier, recorded on Easter, presumably at Base K-8. Adams was in the audience.
Apr 12: near Kunsan, Korea: Tommy Flanagan trio, plus altoist Jerry Lehmeier, recorded at Base K-8. Adams was in the audience.
May 17: Pusan, Korea: Adams boards the Marine Phoenix troopship for his return home.
cMay 23: Pacific Ocean: Adams performs on alto sax for returning troops in a quintet with Marv Holladay.
cJune 2: Seattle: Arrives at Ft. Lott.
June 5: Detroit: Receives honorable release from active duty.
June 6: Ft. Custer MI: Files discharge papers and is transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve.
With this scanty chronology as a backdrop, imagine my excitement when I learned of a memoir written by someone who was in the Army with Pepper. Al Gould's slender memoir, Boots on the Ground with Music in My Hands, (Gilbert AZ: Acadia Publishing, 2011) definitely helps me understand that time. The author provides very useful background information, such as the history and purpose of the 10th Special Services Company. He also includes some fascinating vignettes that give a taste of Adams' military experience. 

The 10th, established in Honolulu in 1944, was first stationed in Guam, then Japan and Korea. Essentially a kind of Bob Hope USO touring troupe without the pretty girls, musicially speaking it was far more accomplished. According to Gould,

     It was the only Special Services Company in the whole armed forces made up of professional 
     entertainers, most of them drafted, who automatically would be sent to this company after receiving 
     basic training. These men were the top musicians from the major dance and swing bands of the 
     day such as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton and others. The 10th Special Services 
     Company also included celebrity vocalists, comedians, magicians and other entertainers. 

According to the author, members of the 10th "gave up their musical professional lives in order to bring uplifting entertainment to all UN forces during the Korean Conflict." The Army's entertainment units were organized by Margaret "Skippy" Lynn. Lynn, a professional dancer, had the job since 1945, right after the conclusion of World War II.

According to Gould, USO tours in Korea by civilians were difficult--presumably due to the rugged terrain, weather, war conditions, or other factors, though Gould doesn't say--hence the need for the 10th: 

     Live entertainment was eagerly sought by the troops as an essential morale booster. Thus, the       
     touring all-soldier shows were conceived. Self contained units became capable of performing under 
     the most diverse circumstances while maintaining top professional stage presence and strict military 
     conduct. . . . Each platoon produced a theatrical musical program, which would tour and play for all 
     UN and MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] military personnel in South Korea, sometimes under 
     artillery fire.

As the book's blurb states, the author "spent nearly a year of his three year tour of duty as an accordionist in the 2nd Platoon of the 10th Special Services Company . . . . His unit broke all previous records, zig-zagging over 7,000 miles across South Korea and playing over 250 shows for military personnel and other UN troops." Pepper, for his part, was in the 10th Special Services Band in Korea for only six months--from c. 15 November 1952 through his return home on the Marine Phoenix troopship in late May 1953. To what degree did Gould's unit intersect with Pepper's? Until I interview Gould, that will be hard to know. Gould joined the 10th in January 1953, two months after Pepper. 

There were three separate 10th platoons (subdivisions of the Eighth United States Army) traveling "the road" in Korea. Gould's 2nd platoon consisted of 33 men yet all three platoons had an accordian player. I don't know yet which platoon Pepper was in but Gould's master roster of all 10th platoon members lists 102 soldiers, including Adams, alto saxophonist/bassist Jerry Lehmeier and baritone saxophonist Marv Holladay. 

Gould's first performances were in January 1953. He describes it in rich detail:

     This was January, and it was bone rattling cold. Our shows were played out of doors--anywhere we 
     could set up a stage, generators, sound equipment, musical instruments, including an upright 
     piano, and props off our truck. We carried our own 12-man tents for catching a quick night's sleep, 
     so at each stop it was physically unpacking, setting up tents and all our equipment, playing at least 
     two shows a day, often moving to a second location in between. The cold weather often brought 
     lips frozen to the horn mouthpieces, and fingers so stiff it was almost impossible to play the keys. . .

As of Christmas 1952 no one in the history of the 10th Special Services had been killed in combat. Gould recounts an amusing anecdote in which someone from the 3rd Platoon risked his life amid snipper fire to chop down a small Christmas Tree so he could affix it to his troop's truck. Members of his company adorned it with makeshift ornaments and it was a huge morale booster.

The author points out that soon after his arrival in Korea bands were reducing their size and transferring some of the musicians to different outfits, some with infantry. This, says Gould, "resulted in us moving more often, and we were dead tired, being booked for two shows a day for ten days straight." Again, how this might've affected Pepper is not known.

In February 1953 Gould's platoon was accused by a commanding officer of missing inspection. The 2nd 10th had arrived at the 25th Division Headquarters very early in the morning. While on the road, they had permission to sleep until 10:30am, unlike most soldiers, but the Division's officer was unaware of this. When the commander burst into the platoon's tent and demanded an explanation for why they weren't with the other troops at inspection, a member of Gould's platoon responded, "We are Special Service, Sir--and will you please turn up the stove on your way out?" Normally, such snarkiness would be grounds for court martial, but Special Service outfits were elite groups with "passes" signed by General Taylor that they be granted preferential treatment.

General Maxwell Taylor had assumed direction of the Eighth U.S. Army when General Matthew Ridgway replaced General Dwight Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in May 1952. According to Pepper's friend Len Dobbin, Taylor is someone for whom Pepper had enormous respect.

Another amusing Gould anecdote describes the enemy enjoying the 2nd 10th's show. After the conclusion of one of their performances near the MLR (Main Line of Resistance), a few dud mortars were lobbed over with notes affixed, written in English saying, "We enjoyed the show too."

By April 1953 there were rumors that the 10th was going to be disbanded. Changes were certainly afoot. The war was winding down, perhaps part of why Pepper was sent home a few months later? Soon the 10th would be waking up at 6am and would be reassigned to one of three Army Corps units that would be doing mundane tasks, such as overseeing movies, libraries and sporting equipment. It's a good thing Pepper left for home!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Sound and the Fury: Pepper Adams at the Little Vienna, 1960

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

I hadn't listened to this very rare audience recording in many years. I finally got my cassette version converted to CD and listened to it in the car. Wow, did it hit me between the eyes! Ever hear a solo for the first time that completely blows you away? That's what happened to me here. I was mesmerized and broke out in a sweat! It wasn't the first time hearing it but it sure seemed like it.

This audience tape was originally recorded by Montreal pianist and impresario Keith White, who was the first person to bring Pepper Adams to Montreal. White was responsible for bringing many greats to Montreal, such as John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham and Bill Evans. Pianist Art Roberts was supposed to do the gig but bowed out, leaving White to fill in. Adams had played in Montreal once before--with Benny Goodman's big band two years earlier--but never as a single. Pepper did have a chance to be heard after hours at Montreal jam sessions in 1958 and the word was out among musicians about his brilliance as a soloist.

What is truly remarkable about this recording is Pepper's sound. White took special care by using a very fine reel-to-reel tape recorder and two high quality microphones. It's the real Pepper!; what he would've sounded like back then on his original Selmer and Berg Larsen. What's so striking is that his sound is unlike anything we have on commercially available live recordings of that time, such as Riverside's Five Spot date or Blue Note's Byrd-Adams at the Half Note. Who knew his sound was so different from the live dates or studio recordings? Pepper's sound here is more woody and resonant, more like a woodwind instrument and less austere. In short, sax fans, absolutely beautiful! Yes, of course I'll push my webmaster to post it at for all to hear. In fact, it would make sense right away as an appendage to June's Solo of the Month, since White also produced Pepper's triumphant Montreal concert at the Museum of Fine Arts. 

So much for the sound. But Pepper takes care of business too, especially on the opener, Bluesology, and the following tune, Scrapple from the Apple. By 1960 Pepper was a fully-formed magnificent soloist. With everything clicking at the Little Vienna--ideas, chops, tone, time--Pepper was decidedly more experimental here. This date is the earliest known audience recording of Adams on his own date. Already pushing the jazz harmonic envelope, he can be heard experimenting with dissonance that would become more and more his personal trademark.

It's even more amazing a recording if you read White's comments in Joy Road. Between sets, twice each night that weekend, Pepper left the club to get laid! White knew Pepper very well and his anecdote about their first gig together is one of the most amusing and important vignettes in my book. I share parts of it (not the sex part) at my lectures about Pepper because White speaks at length about pattern playing and Pepper's debt to both Bird and Tatum.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thad or Not Thad? That Is the Question (Part Two)

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

What's the deal with the second Joe Williams date with Thad Jones? The first one, discussed in Pepper Adams' Joy Road, was done after hours and includes some short but memorable solos by members of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. But the second one, Something Old, New and Blue? Dave Demsey, Frank Basile and I exchanged an interesting series of emails about this recording. This first from Demsey in late April, 2014:

Hi Gary,

That Joe Williams Something Old/New/Blue date is amazing - and definitely NOT the Thad/Mel band. No musicians are credited (can you find that? I haven't been able to find any credits). In fact, it's not a big band date at all, most of it is either strings, multi-horns, etc. We have two of Thad's arrangements from that date, in Thad's handwriting (Young Man on the Way Up, and One More for the Road). There's no bari sax on that at all, I don't think; if there is, it might be ensemble stuff for one chart. Certainly no Pepper.  It may be LA guys, I don't recognize any of the sax players at all.  

Knowing how much these guys ghost-wrote for one another, it would not surprise me at all if Bob Friedman did some of the charts on this...Thad is credited as "arrangements by Thad Jones" but who knows with that stuff? Bob could even have done something on the Thad/Mel Present Joe Williams date, although I'd think that was more hands-on for Thad, it was only their second album as a band, he was bringing in his old Basie star Joe...but as I said, nothing would surprise me. All of the Thad scores we have are in one hand -- Thad's...but I have heard many stories of Thad ghosting for others, of others ghosting for Quincy or for Benny Carter, etc. Quincy or Benny would sketch out the chart with the melodies and the lines, and others would come fill the parts out.



Dr. David Demsey
Coordinator of Jazz Studies
Professor of Music
Curator, Living Jazz Archives
William Paterson University

Frank Basile wondered if any of Pepper's notations were written on the bari parts. About that, Demsey replied, "Unfortunately, there is no writing at all on the parts for that "One More For the Road" chart – must have been a quick read-through. I'll double check, but I don't think there is anything. I'd still make a strong bet that Pepper was not involved with that other Joe Williams session."

Basile had also written the following about the recording:
"This is most certainly not a big band date. There's a trumpet/tenor pairing on all the tunes, strings on a couple, vibes, and organ added on a few.

-On 3 tunes ("One for My Baby," "Everybody Loves My Baby," and "When I Take My Sugar To Tea") there's a bigger horn section. Sounds to me like 3 or 4 saxes and at least 1 trumpet. I do hear baritone on these 3 tracks only. It's hard for me to discern whether it's Pepper or not due to the mix. But in certain passages when it's more audible, it does sound to me like it could be. There's a brief alto solo on "One For My Baby" that I'm almost certain is Jerome Richardson. 

-In many spots, the drummer sounds like Mel to me. (One good example is the intro to "Everybody Loves My Baby").

-I'm not sure who the trumpet/tenor pairing is, but the brief tenor solo on "Young Man On The Way Up" sounds like it could be Eddie Daniels.

-I don't have the original LP, but an LRC CD reissue with no personnel info. Pictures I've seen of the original LP cover say "Arranged and Conducted by Thad Jones." The arrangements to me certainly have plenty of Thadisms.

-My guess would be that this was (or these were) a session (or sessions) that happened to use some guys from Thad and Mel's band and possibly other freelancers.

-Gary, Where did you get the date/location info for this record (i.e. 23-27 April 1968, Los Angeles)? Assuming these dates/location are correct, it would seem logical to me that members of the band would be used for the session."

I replied that I first learned of the date from Walter Bruyninckx's 60 Years of Recorded Jazz that I would've found at the Institute of Jazz Studies in the late 1980s. Once I researched their gig in San Francisco, I trimmed the dates accordingly.

Dave Demsey wrote the following:

"Hi Frank and Gary,

As I'd mentioned, I agree with Frank that there's no big band.

We have copies of the original parts from the session for "One for My Baby."  The instrumentation is alto/tenor/bari, two flugelhorns, trombone, vibes/gtr/pno/bass/drums.  That's the biggest horn group on the record, although other charts may share something akin to that instrumentation.

I agree about the drummer sounding like Mel, and interesting to say that might be Eddie Daniels on tenor, be cool to reach out to him and ask.  

I'm sure that, somewhere, there is a personnel list for this session, but it's not on either the original vinyl issue, or the CD re-release."

Dear Readers: Do any of you have information about this date? Can anyone reach Eddie Daniels about it?  Happy Fathers Day to all. . . .

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ray Charles?

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

For many years I've been wondering if Pepper Adams appeared on a Ray Charles date. When I interviewed tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell some 25 years ago he suggested as much but wasn't sure what the date was called and couldn't remember any specifics. I recently came across Jazz Number II, a Ray Charles date released in January 1973 on the Canadian label Tangerine (TRCS-1516). It's a big band date with arrangements by Teddy Edwards, Jimmy Heath, Alf Claussen, Roger Neumann and Thad Jones. Jazz Number II is part of a trilogy of jazz big band dates done by Charles in the 1970s that include My Kind of Jazz and My Kind of Jazz Part 3. 

Other than Art Blakey, the only personnel I've seen anywhere for Jazz Number II is non-listings for an "uncredited anonymous band" or "additional musicians." Interestingly, one of the charts on the date is Kids Are Pretty People, a tune Thad Jones and Mitchell recorded on a small group date in 1963 and a tune Pepper performed in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. 

Jazz Number II was recorded at Charles' Tangerine/RPM Studios in Los Angeles in 1971-1972. According to the chronology at, Pepper was not in LA either year but there are noticable gaps, especially in 1971. Jazz Number II was reissued by Concord in 2010 as Genius + Soul = Jazz. Will Friedwald wrote the liner notes and I've written to him for clarification. (He's currently looking for his files to see if there's any personnel info.) Does anyone have a copy of this and can they listen for a non-Low A bari part to see if Pepper might be on the date?

If Pepper is on any of the three Ray Charles big band dates that make up the trilogy, it's possible that Pepper did it as overdubs. That was the era for it, of course, and Pepper did a lot of overdubs in New York for CTI, Atlantic, et al. from 1968-1975 or so. The link here is Billy Mitchell, who I believe was Charles' contractor at the time. Mitchell was very close with both Thad and Pepper. All three go back to their days in Detroit in the late 1940s. If Mitchell needed a bari player on a big band jazz date, Pepper would surely be thought of as an option.