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Art Standards by Art Pepper and the Hollywood All Stars

Art Standards by Art Pepper and the Hollywood All Stars is a sampler CD drawing from a recently released multi-CD box set produced by Galaxy Records entitled Art Pepper: The Hollywood All Star Sessions. The recordings represent work of Pepper between 1979 up to 5 months before his death in 1982. The nine pieces released on Art Standards represent Pepper wielding his alto sax (and clarinet on "The Shadow of Your Smile") through tunes drawn from Great American Song Book by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Van Heusen and Burke, George and Ira Gershwin, and Johnny Mandel. Along with Pepper, the talents of altoists Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, and trombonist Bill Watrous are showcased. Although listed, trumpeter Jack Sheldon a historically familiar collaborator with Pepper, plays only a small role performing the down tempo introduction and coda to "You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To." The rhythm section is made up of veterans of the Los Angeles jazz scene, and provides the necessary drive and pulse to propel Pepper and his sidemen through some really swinging straight ahead Bop.

Despite the twists and turns, ups and downs of the life and career of Art Pepper, these recordings represent some really superb playing. Pepper’s sound is light, bright, clear, and distinctively assertive. His improvisations are ebullient and effervescent, and demonstrate his artistry at what may have been a major peak in his creative powers toward the end of his life. Likewise, the sidemen Pepper records with on Art Standards also represent the crème de la crème of musicianship. Bill Watrous’ beautiful sound in the upper register of his trombone blends flawlessly with Pepper’s alto on "Begin the Beguine." Alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt and Pepper play off of each other like two sparring in a friendly tennis match on four of the CD’s tunes. Likewise Lee Konitz also makes a fine contribution playing "’S Wonderful" and "The Shadow of Your Smile" with Pepper.

As a remake, these recordings are very well done. The remastering/repackaging has resulted in a set of well-balanced and clear recordings. The quality of the recording along with the quality of the musical artistry make Art Standards a pleasure to the ear and a transfusion to one’s jazz aesthetic. To any fan of Art Pepper the entire box set Art Pepper: The Hollywood All Star Sessions would likely be an indefatigable "must have". If this sampler CD Art Standards is any indication of what the remainder of the box set will bring, the entire set would very likely be a most welcome addition to any fan of Bop inspired straight ahead jazz.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Art Pepper and the Hollywood All Stars
  • CD Title: Art Standards
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Galaxy Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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