Pepper ADAMS 1977

Pepper Park Adams III was the unlikely name of the King of the Power Baritone Sax. He wielded his heavy instrument with remarkable agility and evangelistic fervor. His joyful playing complemented the suave ministrations of the great Mulligan by displaying a rawer, brawnier, and bluesier feel. Ultimately he did as much as his more famous counterpart in the Fifties and Sixties to demonstrate that the baritone had just as much potential as a solo instrument as the tenor and the alto.
Adams grew up in Rochester, NY, and when he was 16 he moved to Detroit where he became an important part of the very fertile local jazz scene. Other than a period in the military (1951-1953), Adams was a major fixture in Detroit, playing with such up-and-coming musicians as Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, and Elvin Jones. Adams had opportunities to tour with Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, and Chet Baker, and he moved to New York in 1958. In addition to recording both as a leader and a sideman, Adams played with Benny Goodman (1958-1959) and Charles Mingus (off and on between 1959-1963), and co-led a quintet with Donald Byrd (1958-1962). He was a longtime member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra (1965-1978) and a major stylist up until his death.
But even in his lifetime, which ended too early in 1986, he was strangely ignored. Take the case of a 1957 John Coltrane album called Dakar [on this blog and strangely not downloaded but once !!!]; it's actually a leaderless Prestige Records blowing session centered around the unusual three-horn front line of tenorman Coltrane plus baritonists Adams and Cecil Payne. It was issued under Coltrane's name because of his well-deserved fame, but it is Pepper's show, and a wonderful one at that. This small and much-overlooked gem of hard bop is full of throaty and gregarious Adams solos, set off wonderfully by Trane's quicksilver and mercurial tenor and the hard-driving lyricism of pianist Mal Waldron. As fine as he is, Payne is somewhat overshadowed in this company. And Adams is right up to the challenges Coltrane presents, despite the dissimilarity in their fortunes.
Adams' passionate attack may also be why he played so well with longtime Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, who occupies the drum chair on two of the baritonist's most formidable recordings as a leader: 10 to 4 at the 5 Spot and Encounter!. These dramatic albums are not stylistic milestones or ground-breaking experiments, but they are two of the solidest, most straightforward, and most confident examples ever recorded of the style of jazz that has come to be known, for better or worse, as "mainstream."
And such are his monuments. He was a working musician who recorded in a variety of contexts. He was an excellent performer in an age when excellent performers were taken for granted or ignored. He made a great deal of great music, and for that portion of it that was recorded, we can all be grateful.

Pepper ADAMS 1977

Pepper ADAMS bs, John MARABUTO p, Bob MAITZE b, Ron MARABUTO dr,

Baritonist Pepper Adams had a rare chance to really stretch out on this live set from Half Moon Bay, CA. The music, released for the first time on this 1995 CD, really showcases Adams since pianist John Marabuto, bassist Bob Maize and drummer Ron Marabuto are subtle and quite supportive. Adams performs three standards (including versions of "Dewey Square" and "How Long Has This Been Going On" that are over 13 minutes apiece) plus a couple of original blues.

To be continued...

1 comment:

GIBSON L5 ( RAZ ) said...

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peace and love
Raz