Jeremy Kahn's extraordinary arrangements of Pepper Adams' ballads will be given their world premiere this Saturday, September 3, at the Chicago Jazz Festival, one of the world's great jazz events. A few months ago, this tremendous band, under Kahn's leadership, and with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, recorded seven Adams ballads, five of which Kahn re-arranged in different genres. This time around, the same band--Pat LaBarbara, tenor sax; Jeremy Kahn, piano; Dennis Carroll, bass; George Fludas, drums; Alexis Cole, vocals; and with Geof Bradfield on tenor in place of Alexander--will perform several of these little known ballads that will be released next April as Volume 5 of Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions. This is Kahn's third date of Pepper tunes, all equally provocative. Volume 1 is a quartet date, featuring baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan. Volume 2 is for jazz trio. Samples of all the released tracks are available by clicking through the home page link "Pepper Adams: Complete Compositions," then choosing the appropriate session. I hope to see you at the Festival. As always, it's free.
It was such a joy to be in Chicago last week to record all seven of Pepper Adams' ballads! It was Pepper Adams' unfulfilled wish at the time of his death in 1986 that lyrics be written to his ballads. Now, the lyrics that I commissioned posthumously have been recorded. The culmination of at least a half a year of planning, Jeremy Kahn took my ideas for transforming Pepper's ballads into other styles and wrote another brilliant set of arrangements. Transforming a dreamy, harmonically rich Strayhornesque ballad into a funk tune, for example, was just one of the ideas I had for Adams' ballads that Kahn crafted with extraordinary results. It sure helps when you have a terrific band. Jeremy and I brought back Ray Brown drummer George Fludas, who appears on Volumes 1 and 2 of this project. Joining us for the first time is the very tasteful Chicago bassist Dennis Carroll, who has played with Fludas for many years. Singer Alexis Cole, who collaborated in New York with poet/lyricist Barry Wallenstein to fit his words to Adams' compositions and, later, to Jeremy's provocative arrangements, sang on all seven tunes, each also a showcase for our two extraordinary tenor saxophonists, Pat LaBarbera and Eric Alexander. The date will be released on CD Baby, just prior to the group's concert at the Chicago Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 3. Please check out the date, and come on out and support the band and the music of Pepper Adams! The concert is free.