Sunday, May 2, 2021

Pepper Doings, April 2021


Before signing off on Chapter Three, my account of

Adams’s experience in the US Army, I decided to send

my final draft to a reader for his feedback. Although this

is one of my shortest chapters, I think I’ve been dealing

with this material for such a long time that perhaps I’ve

lost some perspective. Hopefully he’ll agree that it’s in

OK shape and, apart from some minor changes, I can

finally put it to bed.

I started a demanding full-time job five weeks ago and

my progress on the book has been slowed down. I still

think I’m on track to publish in September, but the most

important thing is to ensure that it’s in the best shape

that I can muster.

I’m excited to report that a very significant cache of

Pepper tapes and interviews have recently been trans-

ferred to a producer/musician who is restoring them,

releasing some of it to the public, and making all of it

available to me for study. Although I can’t yet reveal

the source of the material or its newfound recipient,

I’ve been aware of the collection for over thirty years

and am so excited that I’ll soon have a chance to

analyze the material and consider it for inclusion in

the biography. Typically, all of Pepper’s interviews

yield gems, so it’s likely that I’ll discover something

new for the book. 

The Adams discography has been updated with new


Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with the

eminent blogger Michael Steinman. He’s perhaps the

first person who really understands what I’ve tried to

do with the narrative structure of the biography, and

who has the breadth of knowledge about the subject

to truly grasp how I tried to diverge from the typical birth-

to-grave, tragedy or romance, cliched approach. After

our call, he wrote this wonderful blurb that I’ll be using

as advance praise


Most jazz biographies are predictable chronologies of gigs

and recordings, friendships and rivalries, kindness and cruelty.

We know how they start; we know how they end. Carner’s

admiring multi-dimensional portrait of Pepper Adams is a

delightful corrective. Irresistibly, it floats from story to story.

I couldn't wait to find out what happens next. Even if readers

know Pepper only as a bracing, lovely sound, before we are

ten pages in we are happily encountering him as a fully-

rounded person, reading Yeats, eating ribs, impatient with

cliche, searching and finding wherever he goes. It takes lung

power to play the baritone saxophone: this biography has the

breath of life.   


Michael Steinman

Author, Jazz Lives blog


Next weekend I’ll get a jump on Chapter Four corrections.

Happy springtime. 


  1. Dear Mr. Carner, Thank you so much for all your wonderful efforts, and I look forward to purchasing the bio in due course (I already have the discog). I had a couple of questions please - I see that you mentioned in your blog the imminent issue of the CD version of the Spotlite album Ephemera, but I can't find it anywhere. Secondly, I'd very much like to purchase Joy Road Vol. VI - I'm one of the persons that Motema did not think would purchase all the volumes, except that I did from them, after writing to them several times about not putting them out on CD.

    By the way, I feel for anyone such as yourself who is undertaking this massive piece of work in tribute to a master musician. I was co-compiler of the Tubby Hayes Discography, and my other co-author wrote the bio, so we at least distributed the work between us!!!

    Once again, thanks for a great effort and piece of work so far.

    1. Thanks for your very kind words and reaching out. No updates on Ephemera coming out as a CD. I've struck out numerous times getting someone to commit to it. My Vol VI (big band) is still only available digitally via CD Baby, though I plan to release it as a CD within the next 12 months. Motema will not be releasing it. Regarding Tubby Hayes, Adams played a gig at the Bull's Head c. 25 March 1972. Has that performance ever surfaced as an audience tape among collectors?

  2. Dear Mr. Carner, Thanks for your reply and I think I'll now purchase Ephemera on LP and digitise it as it seems to be the best way forward. I'm also going to get the session with Barry Altschul as that seems to have avoided CD as well!!! Tried to purchase the Vol VI via CDBaby, but they are now defunct, I'm afraid, so will await your CD (unless you'd like me to remit to you the cost via PayPal and send me a download). I will look into the Bull's Head situation via my collaborator on the Hayes discog and also various blogs of which I'm a member and get back to you on that. Stuff surfaces all the time - the Ron Mathewson tape collection has just been made available after his death and is fuelling a new reissue label, JazzinBritain, for example - so let's see what I can find out. Cheers, MonkSphere

  3. Going forward, feel free to email me at Good decision regarding Ephemera, but I don't recommend the session with Altschul. The pianist was drunk and sloppy, and the date is so-so. Do you have Curtis Fuller's Four on the Outside. That's a great one!

    CD Baby isn't defunct per se, but the tunes are only available as downloads. You can also likely buy at Amazon. Let me know if it doesn't work.

    Thanks for looking into the Tubby date. Quite a band, with Seaman, Mraz, Dodgion.