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Smack Up by Art Pepper

This is certainly an ironic title for someone that ended up in jail for possession of heroin. Art Pepper’s Smack Up was a classic exploration of his instinctive abilities on the Alto saxophone. The original 1960 recording was comprised of six tracks, this remastered edition from Contemporary Records adds two bonus tracks of "Solid Citizens," which offers an irrefutable testament to Pepper’s rhythmic sense and knowledge of a composition while fully exploring the essence of jazz music. Compositions such as this are hard to shake, the melody stays with you for a long time, as does most of his work.

This CD sparkles and shines like new, giving the tracks a newly found profundity and consistency, highlighting the underrated, and perhaps, one of the forgotten men of jazz. Although he never reached the elevated status of his contemporaries, his artistry is boldly obvious on this recording. The strengths of Pepper’s creative process are captured exceptionally well on this recording. His accompanists Frank Butler (drums), Pete Jolly (piano), Jack Sheldon (trumpet) and Jimmy Bond (bass), are the perfect compliment to his method and advances in the dominion of jazz, and each of them were fine individual performers in their own right.

If Art Pepper had lived a longer life he more than likely would have went down as one of the all-time greats alongside the likes of Bird and Coltrane, although he is arguably in the same league even though the history books do not reflect that. He had the right stuff. Perhaps, now with the uncovering of his past work, jazz historians will rethink were he belongs in the annals of music history. I think he should get that consideration, his work was very important and trend setting.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Art Pepper
  • CD Title: Smack Up
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 1960
  • Reissue Original Release: 2004
  • Record Label: Contemporary Records
  • Tracks: Smack Up Las Cuevas de Mario A Bit of Basie How Can You Lose Maybe Next Year Tears Inside Bonus Tracks: Solid Citizens Solid Citizens
  • Musicians: Frank Butler (Drums),Art Pepper (Alto Sax), Pete Jolly (Piano), Jack Sheldon (Trumpet), Jimmy Bond (Bass);
  • Rating: Five Stars
Morrice Blackwell

Owner and publisher of jazzreview.com, Morrice Blackwell is a christian husband dad jazz fan website developing marketing manager basketball playing engineer that lives for photography.

Website: morriceblackwell.com
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