Sunday, February 5, 2023

Pepper Adams Paperback and Zoom Panel


I’m thrilled to report that my paperback version of Reflectory,entitled Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer, is now submitted in final form to Excelsior Editions. It took

about two solid weeks of intense work to finish the index,

after another two similar weeks close-reading the manuscript.

“Jimmy Health”? That’s one typo that for so long snuck under

the radar but is now fixed.

William Paterson University has cataloged my and Pepper’s

materials, and they are now available for study. Another box of

tapes and videos will be sent sometime this year from my

webmaster. And a large load of five or so large boxes of scores

and ephemera still sit in Atlanta. I’m not sure how they will make

it to Wayne, New Jersey, but I’ll drive it there in 2024 at the latest.

Disappointingly, Worcester Polytechnic University has yet to

digitize my interviews with Adams. They’ve had them for three

years, but no news yet on when they will be available at their


Now that my Pepper Adams work has come to a close after 38

years, I’m free for hire to do other jazz projects. I just finished

writing liner notes for Paul Tynan and Aaron Lington’s forthcoming

recording Bicoastal Collective, Volume 6.

To keep Reflectory current, I’ve convened another Pepper Adams

Zoom panel. On February 26, the following will discuss Adams

solos. It will be posted on YouTube and at

sometime in March:

Paul Tynan: “Clarion Calls” (1959)

Ben Sidran: “Little Rootie Tootie” (1959)

Aaron Lington: “Each Time I Think of You” (1961)

Andrew Hadro: “Incarnation” (1963)

John Vana: "Azure-Te" (1963)

Logan Ivancik: “Once Around” (1966)

Frank Basile: “Currents/Pollen” (1973) and 

     “Wind from the Indies” (1977)

Adam Schroeder: “Three and One” (1975)

Kenny Berger: “Reflectory” (1978)

Kevin Goss: "My Shining Hour" (1980)

Courtney Wright: “It Could Happen to You” (1980)

Noah Pettibon: “Three Little Words” (1981)

Lastly, check out this new discovery: Pepper Adams in Rome with

Franco D’Andrea’s trio, January 20, 1979:

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Paperback Almost Done


Happy New Year! 2022 was a tough year healthwise for me,

dealing with C0V!D and its aftermath. So, I am happy to turn

the page.

Despite the inconvenience, I managed to abridge Reflectory:

The Life and Music of Pepper Adams for a paperback edition. It took four months of work to ready the manuscript for the

publisher, and prepare all of the documents they required to

issue me a contract. Once received, it took additional work to

find photographs and illustrations that SUNY Press would

accept, and then obtain permission forms for them. Then, it

took another few weeks of work to pore over the copyeditor’s

corrections. Now, finally, I’m in the last stage of production. I

recently reread the typeset proofs, proposing final tweaks,

and now it’s up to me to produce the index, a tedious but

curiously engrossing task that will take another two weeks to

complete. Once I submit the tweaks and index, all that’s left for

me to do is to make sure my changes were properly added

and review the index for errors. I think by around February 1

the book will be put to bed.

You can expect an upgraded Thad/Mel chronology (19641977) to be posted in the next few months. I recently searched

through eight years of Orkester Journalenmagazines and was able to both find new gigs that Pepper and

Jones/Lewis did and correct some old ones. The current

chronology, that was updated a month or two ago, is here:

For those who read Swedish or are curious, I also stumbled

upon a 1970 review by Lennart Blomberg that I hadn’t before

seen. It’s newly posted in the bibliography at : 

As a reminder, the ebook version will remain in print. That’s the

one with 450 music links, half never before available, and many

cool photographs besides. None of this is included in the

forthcoming paperback. 

I hope 2023 is a great year for all of you. I’ll provide an update on

the paperback edition in early February. I’m hopeful that the

project will be in the rearview mirror by then. I also hope to

provide news about newly discovered tapes of Adams and Chet

Baker from 1978. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Update on Pepperback Edition


I hope everyone stateside had a terrific Thanksgiving

and start to the holiday season. I’ve been busy packing

because I have to move to a new place by May 31. So

far, only one papercut.

Yesterday I received the galleys to Pepper Adams:

Saxophone Trailblazer. I have to submit final changes by

mid-January. The book is still on target for a Fall, 2023


This, of course, will be the paperback edition of Reflectory:

The Life and Music of Pepper Adams. It’s devoid of music

links, all the photos from Adams’s estate, and at least half

the text. But, as a slimmed down abridged edition, it will be

available as a “real” book, and should raise Pepper’s profile.

Also, Reflectory will stay in print for those OK with an ebook

and who want to hear all this great music.

In the last few weeks I’ve updated all of the Adams

chronologies with new research, so check them out here: 

A lot of new content at can be expected in

the next few months, including new interviews and radio shows

with me, new performances of Pepper’s compositions, and

vintage videos of Adams that have never before been seen.

Have a great holiday. Talk to you next year.


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Kind Words about Reflectory


A few days ago I received a wonderful Facebook

message from Tony Wolton regarding Reflectory:

I'm going through the book for a second time, a must have

item not just for lovers of Pepper Adams and his music, but

anyone interested in the Detroit/New York jazz scene 1950's

onwards. Before the book, what little I knew about him came

from LP liner notes and anything I might glean from a magazine

or two. The man was a genius. One reference from the book

and then I'm done: In 1968 (or thereabouts), Miles Davis played

first set at a gig so he could get off early. Don't forget Miles was

getting into strange stuff by then, but held back in the wings to

hear the whole of Adams' set. He dug what Pepper played. How

many others would Miles Davis have hung back for?


Here’s a link to the book, where you can read some about it and

buy it: 


Sunday, October 9, 2022

October Doings


Instead of writing the blog post last weekend, I spent

much of my time preparing documents for SUNY Press

for the forthcoming paperback edition of the Pepper

Adams biography. The publisher required a bunch of

forms, including a Marketing Questionnaire and

Photograph Spreadsheet, that took about twenty hours

to complete. Fortunately, all of them are now done,

submitted, and in their hands for processing. I've been

told to expect the book to hit and other

booksellers late next year.

For those of you who are adverse to buying or reading

ebooks, or those awaiting the paperback edition, let me

remind you of a few things. The paperback edition is

greatly abridged, maybe as much as half of the original

text. Moreover, all of the 450 music links are removed.

Also deleted are all of the incredible photographs. My

suggestion is to grab the ebook, if for no other reason

than to hear all of the great music. I carefully chose my

favorites, half of which have never been released! See:

Yesterday was Pepper Adams’s 92nd birthday. Also,

baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, arguably Pepper’s

first disciple, passed away yesterday. It reminded me of

Harry Carney’s death. He too died on Pepper’s birthday.

How weird is that?

A few announcements. Several updates have been

made to Three musician

roundtables that I hosted about Adams are now far more

visible on the site's homepage:  Second, new transcriptions have been added:

I’m also pleased to announce that Noah Pettibon is the

new co-author, along with John Vana, of the third book

on Pepper Adams. Intended as a complement to my

biography, this will be a musicological study of Adams’s

style. Their intention is to write it in two parts, one for the

lay reader, the other for musicians. Vana and Pettibon’s

expected publication date is 2030, Adams’s centennial.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Paperback Edition


Not a post since May? Gosh, where did the time go? I hope

everyone had a great summer. I’ve been caught up getting

the paperback edition of Reflectory ready for publication,

plus satisfying my publisher’s requirements in order to

acquire their contract. It was quite a lengthy task.

I’m pleased to announce that SUNY (State University of

New York) Press has agreed to publish the paperback

edition of my Pepper Adams biography. As I mentioned in

the Author’s Note to Reflectory,academic presses limit jazz books to around 250 pages.

Thus, Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer, will be a

highly abridged version of Reflectory, quite a different book. 

Stripped down to its essentials, a great deal of detail has been deleted. Many photographs from the Estate of Pepper Adams have been removed, replaced by only a few photographs and documents. The most glaring difference is the removal of all 450 music links and discussion of much of that music.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to have a chance to get a hardcopy version out to the public. Plus, the ebook edition will remain in print and available. I see it as the best of both worlds; a great opportunity to get the word out about Pepper Adams

Cutting down the book was a fascinating exercise. I quickly

realized once again how much easier it is to delete text than

to write it. The mandate was to convert a 730-page book to

about 165 pages, leaving enough room for an index. The

first few steps were easy. I deleted all photographs, changed

the text spacing from 1.25 inches to 1.15, and omitted all

discussion of private and audience recordings. Then, I

deleted one of the forewords and combined some of the end

matter.  That left me with 452 pages. A nice start, but still far

from the required goal.

Getting the book shorter required additional spacing tweaks,

reducing the font of the end matter and block quotes, and

significant excisions as the end product of two complete re-

readings. The first one was cut, cut, cut. “Snoops” as Chico

Marx told Harpo in Duck Soup, after each snip they made of

the boat captain’s mustache. My second pass through

allowed me to cut further and smooth out some of the

transitions that were adversely affected by the deletions. In

some cases, it required moving paragraphs around,

sometimes to other chapters.

The paperback edition needs to be submitted by October 15.

Fortunately, the text is done, but I have a short window in

which to acquire new photographs and documents, get them

in high-resolution form, obtain written permissions for them,

and write captions. I also have to add a brief discography that

I’ll entitle Recommended Recordings. The index can be

submitted later, once the book is edited and typeset.

If anyone can recommend a better title, don’t hesitate to let me

know. I’d prefer something poetic, but was advised that having

“saxophone” in the title would increase sales. Please reply


SUNY is an ambitious press, publishing more than 150 books a

year. Even with my submission in a few weeks, their lengthy

production queue will delay publication for some time. You can

expect the book to be available at Amazon and elsewhere

around this time next year. Meanwhile, check out Reflectory, and

dig the thousands of hours of great Pepper performances, taken

from broadcasts and audience recordings, that you’ve never heard!: