Art Pepper

Art Pepper, Arthur Edward Pepper Jr., Gardena (California), September 1, 1925 – Los Angeles (California), June 15, 1982 was an American alto tromboneist. His career began in the 1940s when he played with Stan Kenton (1946-52). In the 1950s, Pepper was recognized as a leading alto saxophonist in jazz. This was exemplified by his second place in the Down Beat magazine Readers Poll 1952. Pepper is associated with West Coast jazz. This is in contrast to the East Coast (“hot”) jazz associated Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. From 1968 to 1969, Pepper was part of Buddy Rich’s Big Band. He also made two highly-received tours of Japan in 1977 and 1978. Pepper is perhaps most well-known for his numerous legal transgressions that stemmed from his heroin addiction. However, he had many memorable and productive “comebacks” throughout his career. His substance abuse and legal troubles did not impact the quality of his recordings. He maintained a high standard of musicianship through his entire career, until his death due to a brain hemorhage. Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, Art Pepper Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics and Gettin’ Together are just a few of the most well-known Pepper albums. The Aladdin Recordings, three volumes, The Early Show, The Late Show and The Complete Surf Ride all feature representative music from this period. The Way It Was! features a session with Warne Mars. Pepper lived many years in Echo Park, Los Angeles. In the 1940s, Pepper was a heroin addict. His career was cut short by drug-related prison sentences, including 1954-56, 1960-60, 1961-64, 1964-65, 1961-64, and 1964-65. The last two sentences were served at San Quentin. In the 1960s, Pepper was in Synanon, which was a drug rehabilitation program. Art made a comeback musically after he began methadone treatment in the mid-1970s and recorded several highly-acclaimed albums. These albums include Living Legend, Art Pepper Today and Among Friends. 2. Straight Life (1980), his autobiography (transcribed by Laurie Pepper), offers a fascinating look into the jazz world and subcultures of drug- and criminal crime in California’s mid-20th century. Art Pepper: Notes From a Jazz Survivor is a documentary that features music from one his late bands, including pianist Milcho Leviev. NPR also has a Laurie Pepper interview. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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