Saturday, January 21, 2017

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Presents Art Pepper's "West Coast Sessions!"

American jazz musician Art Pepper had an amazing 35 year career in music. Beginning, at age 17, with the Benny Carter Orchestra, then moving on to the Stan Kenton Orchestra, before going solo in the early fifties. He is known as one of the premier jazz musicians of the West Coast jazz movement. His life was cut short when his died from a stroke at the age of 56. During his career, he released over 50 albums and Omnivore Recordings is more than happy to add two more releases to his legacy. On February 4th, two new CD sets will be released covering Art Pepper's 1980's "West Coast Sessions!"

Volume one of this new set features Art Pepper working alongside fellow saxophone player Sonny Stint. Omnivore Recordings took the two albums that Art Pepper recorded with Stint and combined them into this new release, along with four bonus tracks. Disc 1 features the original album "Groovin' High: Sonny Stint And His West Coast Friends." This high energy session produced some exciting jazz numbers, including the nearly nine-minute jams of "Bernie's Tune" and the blues of "How High The Moon." Three of the four bonus tracks on this release are two previously unreleased takes of "Bernie's Tune" (which sound just as good as the released take) along with a high spirited run through Charlie Parker's "Wee." The disc finishes with another take of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' Time" as Pepper and Stint share the spotlight.

The second disc in this set features the original album "Atlas Blues: Blow ! & Ballade." Both albums in this set have been digitally remastered as the sound is fantastic. Disc two begins with the epic numbers "Atlas Blues" and "Lester Leaps In" as the entire band gets their moments to shine. The band also delivers some amazing renditions of "Autumn In New York" and "My Funny Valentine," before closing with the gentle tones of "Imagination."

Now, volume two is a single CD that features the album "Strike Up The Band" featuring pianist Pete Jolly and his West Coast Friends. The album features exciting covers of George Gershwin's "Strike Up The Band" and Cole Porter's "Night And Day." The Art Pepper original, "Y.I. Blues" mixes up the rhythm and delivers a be-bop tone to the song. The song is also featured in the two additional bonus tracks that were added on to this new release. One is an alternative take of "Y.I. Blues," which delivers more swing to the song and the other bonus track is a previously unreleased take of the song as the band are still finding there way through the song. To find out more about these two new Art Pepper releases from Omnivore Recordings, please visit

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