This album is one of Pepper's masterworks. Astonishingly, Pepper didn't find out about the session until the morning of the recording, and his saxophone was reportedly in a poor state, with some of the stops taped up. The Rhythm Section in question is of course Miles Davis' regular band of the time, and they put on a predictably excellent show, despite not meeting Art until the day of the recording. Indeed, Paul Chambers on bass is on exceptionally fine form.
Pepper of course displays the influence of fellow alto-ist, Charlie Parker, who had died earlier in the decade, but who still exerted a huge influence. Pepper, though, developed his own style from that foundation, and by 1957 - when this album was recorded - was associated with the West Coast movement. He recorded a run of excellent albums at this time for Lester Koenig's Contemporary Records, of which "Meets the Rhythm Section" is recognised as the finest.
Along with Winter Moon, (recorded towards the end of his sadly foreshortened life), it is a pinnacle of his career, and regularly features in the charts of the top all time greatest jazz albums, selected by fans and critics alike. The album has three originals by the band and Pepper, which are bewitching and belie their hasty birth. The rest of the tracks are standards, although according to legend Pepper had not previously heard several of these. This is certainly not apparent. Pepper's treatment of Dizzy Gillespie's Birks Works is particularly striking, and for me the best track of the session.
If you are looking for a place to start exploring Art Pepper, there could be no better introduction. If you want a library featuring the best of 1950s jazz, then you will want this record. If you are merely a music fan exploring some of the by-ways of jazz, then I urge you, too, to consider this record. You won't be disappointed; it is one of the finest of its kind.
This release, from the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series, is a 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, and has newly written liner notes. A track recorded at the session - The Man I Love - which was not included on the original album is included.