Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pacific Jazz Puzzles Solved

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

I'm excited to report that jazz researcher James Harrod has discovered the actual recording dates of the James Dean Story and Critics' Choice, Pepper Adams' second date as leader. Harrod confirmed the new information by obtaining copies of AFM contracts. It turns out Pepper did three separate August, 1957 dates for Pacific Jazz, all done at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. On August 13, from 2:00 to 6:30 p.m., Bud Shank led the first James Dean Story session with the following personnel: Charlie Mariano, Herbie Steward as; Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca ts; Pepper Adams bs; Claude Williamson p; Monty Budwig b; Mel Lewis dm; Mike Pacheco bongos; FEATURED SOLOISTS: Chet Baker tp, voc; Bud Shank as, fl.

On August 14, at almost the same time, Bud Shank was again noted as leader for a follow-up date. Its personnel was the same, but augmented with three additional brass: Ray Linn, Don Fagerquist tp: Milton Bernhart tb.

For both Shank sessions there's no listing in the AFM logs of what titles were recorded on either date. If anyone has the recording and can help me identify what tunes have the added brass, please comment below. That will help me make corrections that I'll post at

With respect to Critics Choice, Harrod wrote the following in his blog:

"Pepper Adams' other appearance on Pacific Jazz was as leader for his album, CRITIC'S CHOICE, PJM-407. Both Jepsen and Bruyninckx list the correct date of this recording session for Dick Bock, August 23, 1957. The session was at Radio Recorders from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m."

Regarding Bill Holman and Johnny Mandel's participation, Harrod emailed me this:

"The contracts just list the musicians. Holman might have retained the charts that he arranged. I believe that he has placed most of his archive with the LOC. He received arranger credit on the 14th only. Mandel is not listed as arranger on the 13th. He might have had a direct agreement with Dick Bock for his services. The back liner of P-2005 notes that Mandel arranged The SearchJimmy's Theme, and Success; with Holman arranging the other selections. Mandel might have retained his charts as well."     

Harrod also told me that Chet Baker was listed as co-leader merely as a marketing strategy to boost sales. Also, Johnny Mandel likely functioned as a conductor at both sessions.

You can read all about it at Harrod's blog Jazz West Coast Research:


  1. The following tunes definitely have the extra trumpets and trombone:
    Jimmy's Theme
    The Search
    The Movie Star
    Fairmont, Indiana
    Let Me Be Loved (both versions)

    Also, one might infer that the bongo player (Mike Pacheco) was only present for the session that included the extra brass.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I'm relistening to the date. Your point about bongos only on August 14 is well-taken. It's a terrific date: Some of Chet's hottest playing and Shank plays exquisite flute. It's hard to fail when Mel Lewis is in the band!

  2. This is one of only two known recording dates in which Pepper Adams plays bass clarinet. Does anyone hear what tracks he plays it on? Perhaps Success and Then What?