Second in popularity and acclaim to only Charlie “Bird” Parker, jazz saxophonist Art Pepper was a pioneering figure in the bop and cool jazz movements. He rose to prominence in the 1950s but remained a mesmerizing and intense performer until his death in 1982 at age 56.
In 2012, Omnivore issued a series of unreleased music from Pepper on colored vinyl. For the first time, those recordings are available on CD as in the three-volume “Neon Art.” Released in conjunction with his widow Laurie Pepper, this series is a must for jazz fans.
“Art hated the idea that people put jazz in a pigeonhole,” Laurie explains. “He wanted to make people forget the categories and ‘make them open up and listen.’ The release of these three albums of previously unissued Art Pepper recordings, now available in all configurations, will allow anyone the ability to ‘open up and listen.’”
“Volume One” is composed of just two tracks — the 17-minute “Red Car” and 18-minute “Blues for Blanche” — but both are absolutely mesmerizing. Pepper weaves his saxophone magic on the tunes recorded in 1981 and is ably backed by Milcho Leviev (piano), David Williams (bass) and Carl Burnett (drums). Late-career gems from one of the all-time greats. (Jeffrey Sisk)