Saturday, December 27, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (that ever so conveniently rolled into the weekend). 2015 looks like an exciting year for my Pepper Adams work. As always, I continue to revise the Chronology and Discography whenever new information presents itself. As it turns out, some new data has surfaced recently. Now that all the databases are in PDF format, I'll be updating quarterly. The next update will take place in January.

I continue to look for lecture opportunities. If anyone works at a college and is interested in having me give a talk on Pepper, please let me know. Since the 2012 publication of Pepper Adams'Joy Road I've done about fifty such talks. I love doing them because most students don't know anything about Pepper. Such is the state of jazz history survey courses and textbooks to this day. Because Pepper remains an historical footnote, I always get out to spread the word.

The biggest project of 2015 is the CD issue of Ephemera. Although available on iTunes, it's amazing that the date has never been issued on CD. Tony Williams of Spotlite recently sent the original master to Robin Springall at Repeat Performance in London and the date sounds magnificent! I think it will sound even better if Mel Lewis' drums are brought up in volume. His brushwork is too low and his toms need more definition.

As I wrote a few weeks back, Pepper asked that all alternates from the first day be destroyed, due to some ridiculous antics that took place in the studio. Hence, everything on the date is a first take from Day Two. I hadn't heard Bouncing with Bud, Jitterbug Waltz, Quiet Lady or Hellure in years. What a joy to hear this great music again, especially Quiet Lady. I completely forgot what a brilliant performance this is, right up there perhaps with Day Dream and I've Just Seen Her as one of Pepper's greatest studio ballad performances. Roland Hanna steals the show with his unaccompanied intro, solo, and spectacular unaccompanied coda and Pepper really lays way back in his time on the theme and in his solo.

Bouncing with Bud brings tears to my eyes. It so perfectly captures the language of the 1950s and is played so well by the ensemble. Adams' arrangement of the tune is quite daring. Mel Lewis takes an unaccompanied solo after Hanna's, then George Mraz solos before Pepper. The delay of Adams' solo builds tension, released by Pepper's dramatic entrance. The tune, almost eleven minutes long, feels like a club date performance.

Ah, how about that Adams ballad atmosphere? Is there anything else like it? Civilization and Its Discontents is such an amazing thing, isn't it?

Mel Lewis' driving percussion on Jitterbug Waltz is just wonderful. How about his unaccompanied intro to the tune? What a fine arranging decision on Pepper's part, as is the terraced dynamics in the theme. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Ephemera is one of Pepper's masterpieces. I eagerly look forward to writing new liner notes.

I'll let you know about the timeline of Clarion Jazz reissue. Early September still looks reasonable at this point but no word yet about that from Dale Fielder. Happy New Year everybody! 

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