Art Pepper this weekend. Widely acknowledged as one of the World’s Great Altoists, Art Pepper was a rapidly rising star from the late 1940s on. The trouble was, that little thing called Heroin which spelled the downfall of many a musician in the Jazz world. Joining what is probably best described as That Overflowing Subculture, Pepper ran afoul of the law on numerous occasions and spent three stretches in Prison; two of them at San Quentin. The result was a career that went in fits and starts and was trapped in a perpetual series of comebacks.
But for all the setbacks and struggles, Art Pepper made a lot of important music. He collaborated with a stellar cast of Jazz luminaries and he made his mark in the Jazz world despite what could have been several career-ending episodes.
This concert, recorded at Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris on May 19, 1981 by Radio France was some of his last concert dates, as he died of a stroke in June of 1982. Prior to that, from the mid-1970s on, he had gotten sober, became involved in Synanon and was busy recording a series of albums as well as touring, mostly in Europe.
It was said that, despite all these interruptions in his career, his musicianship and point of view never changed – he had maintained a remarkable virtuosity even after long periods of inactivity.
Fans of Art Pepper most likely know this concert, as it was rebroadcast just recently (in December of last year) via France Musique as part of their Les Legendes du Jazz series which has offered some remarkable and remarkably rare Jazz performances. Newcomers will be able to make yet another discovery of an important voice in the world of Jazz.