Thursday Nov 23

Unreleased Art

As I listened to the exceptional jazz on this CD set, I felt the frustration and irritation welling up.

It wasn't that I was recalling Art Pepper's life full of legal and medical issues, and not even about his early death.  All that's for history and sociology books.  You can probably find all there is to know in his Straight Life autobiography.  I haven't delved into it.

I'm not talking either about the poor sound quality of these live recordings.  These performances were, the notes say, "collected by jazz fans" and "brilliantly repaired and remastered by Wayne Peet."   It's wonderful to hear these performances at all and the sound is natural in an audio verité sense and  I'm going to recommend that you not consider the sonic weakness as a reason to buy this music in the form of MP3 downloads.  Mr. Peet did a hell of a job.  You want to have access to his best efforts.  A compressed MP3 file won't do.

What's distressing to me is that these performances recorded thirty years ago sound more fresh and new, are more adventuresome, more inspiring, and more musically real than the vast majority of recent releases that arrive at my desk.

Look, some people who say the manned moon landings were a hoax point out that it's been about 40 years and in that time there have been no further flights--no Mars expeditions, for instance, no flights around Venus, no further progress.

Listening to these previously unreleased performances by Art Pepper (playing clarinet as well as alto sax..."Avalon" even, what a perfect clarinet feature), pianist Milcho Leview, bassist Bob Magnusson, and drummer Carl Burnett one has to wonder at the minimal progress has been made in jazz creativity and performance in the past 30 years.

In any case, here's incontrovertible evidence that Art Pepper did go to Stuttgart in 1981 and played as if he were aiming at the moon.

(tk)