"The Art of The Ballad", is a jazz series released by Fantasy /Prestige records. Each release is dedicated to a major artist, e.g.,Thelonious Monk,Kenny Dorham, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon etc. and focuses on the musician's ballad interpretations. The materials for these releases are sourced from the artist's previously released albums. These compilations serve as a valuable introduction to the performer's recording legacy.
The Art Pepper 1998 release is comprised of 11 tracks, totaling 67 minutes. Five selections were recorded for Galaxy records between 1977 and 1982.They represent Art's most current work given his passing on 15 June 1982.The musical chemistry between Art and George Cables (piano) is simply inspiring. A musical symbiosis exists that allows these artists to weave musical tapestry with selections, such as, "Body & Soul", "Over the Rainbow" and "You Go to My Head".
Art was the master of the alto sax and used it to perfect effect on these ballads. He was equally talented on clarinet but tended to limit his recordings with this instrument. Fortunately,one of his clarinet performances is included in this package. "Blues in The Night", recorded in 1980, should motivate listeners to explore his other clarinet work.
Also included are two tracks Art recorded with separate versions of Miles Davis' rhythm sections. "Imagination", recorded in 1957 includes Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. "Why are We Afraid?", recorded in 1960, includes Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. Needless to say, these sessions are nothing short of jazz classics.
Some early works recorded in the late fifties are also included."Round Midnight "recorded in 1959 with a large 11 piece ensemble and conducted by the legendary Marty Paich,proves particularly rewarding. Equally worthwhile,is the Kern / Hammerstein composition "All the Things You Are" recorded in 1956.
The 1998 remastering by Joe Tarantino provides a significant contribution to the audio quality. The comprehensive liner notes, recording dates & session musician identification add to a high quality CD release. The original albums used to source the 11 selections are also documented and prove invaluable for those wishing to explore additional material.
Art Pepper was a gifted alto sax and clarinet performer. He had many dimensions to his live and recorded work. It's remarkable what he was able to creatively achieve given his severe life long health challenges and legal problems. This CD is a great introduction to a complex and extremely talented jazz legend.