Art Pepper – ‘Round Midnight

Released as part of the Acoustic Sounds Series celebrating 70 years of Contemporary Records, Saxophonist Art Pepper’s classic big band album +Eleven/Modern Jazz Classics features tracks by Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and more. First released in 1960 and recorded by legendary engineers Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer, this new edition features ALL-ANALOG mastering from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman. The record is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at QRP and presented in a Stoughton Old Style Tip-On Jacket.

Arthur Edward Pepper Jr. was an American alto saxophonist and very occasional tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. Active in West Coast jazz, Pepper came to prominence in Stan Kenton’s big band. Wikipedia

At the age of 17, he began playing professionally with Benny Carter and then became part of the Stan Kenton orchestra, touring with that band until he was drafted in 1943.[4] After the war, he returned to Los Angeles, and joined the Kenton Innovations Orchestra.[4] By the 1950s, Pepper was recognized as one of the leading alto saxophonists in jazz, finishing second only to Charlie Parker as Best Alto Saxophonist in the DownBeat magazine Readers Poll of 1952. Along with Chet BakerGerry Mulligan, and Shelly Manne, and perhaps due more to geography than playing style, Pepper is often associated with the musical movement known as West Coast jazz, as contrasted with the East Coast (or “hot”) jazz of Charlie ParkerDizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Some of Pepper’s best known albums from the 1950s are Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm SectionArt Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz ClassicsGettin’ Together, and Smack Up.[4] Other recordings from this time appear on The Aladdin Recordings (three volumes), The Early ShowThe Late ShowSurf Ride, and Art Pepper with Warne Marsh (also issued as The Way It Was!), which features a session recorded with Warne Marsh.

His career was repeatedly interrupted by several prison stints stemming from his addiction to heroin,[4] but Pepper managed to have several productive “comebacks”. Remarkably, his substance abuse and legal travails did not affect the quality of his recordings, which maintained a high level of musicianship throughout his career until his death in 1982.

His last comeback saw Pepper, who had started his career in Stan Kenton‘s big band, becoming a member of Buddy Rich‘s Big Band from 1968 to 1969. After beginning methadone therapy in the mid-1970s, he toured Europe and Japan with his own groups and recorded many albums, mostly for Galaxy Records, a subsidiary of Fantasy Records., Pepper’s later albums include Living LegendArt Pepper TodayAmong Friends, and Live in Japan.[4]

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