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Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper Hardcover – 4 Sep 1980


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Schirmer G Books (4 Sep 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028718208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028718200
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most powerful and moving autobiographies I have ever read, in any context. In the sphere of jazz, it is unsurpassed. Even someone who has never heard or heard of Art Pepper should read this book. If you like his music, it is indispensible. Just when you start to wonder where fact ends and fiction starts, the author keeps jolting you back to total belief with brutally honest criticisms of himself, his weaknesses and his talents. A superb book on and by a superb artist, and the wife who clearly gave him immense support, love and inspiration. All life is here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 April 1999
Format: Paperback
A book of startling honesty, Pepper's life was a mixture of dire degradation and divine inspiration. After a while, there is a tendancy just to become exasperated with Art, as he continually takes one step forward and two back, and this creates a certain repetition (after a while you just KNOW that he's gonna goof again!). The book remains however, overwhelmingly moving as a demonstration of both the strengths (Pepper's immense talent) and weaknesses (his obsessive, addictive behaviour) of human nature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nikica Gilic on 2 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
This horrific and at times heartbreaking story of Art Pepper's life, as told by himself and several friends, relatives, collegues and such, will haunt you long after reading.
The level of candidness is absolutely stunning; in addition to jazz fans and non-fiction fans, this autobiography will make for excellent reading for psychologists and psychoanalysts and such,
but first and foeremost, I'd say that the rivetting candor of Art's tale projects such a strong image of a sensitive, complex and intriguing human being, far beyond the clishe of a tormented artist...

This is the edition from 1979, when Art was still alive in spite of everything he has done to himself; some edition have Laurie Pepper's afterword covering the last years of the artists life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 May 1998
Format: Paperback
Reading Straight Life 4 times over the last 5 years finally motivated me to listen to some jazz...
Straight Life is one of those few books that I feel compelled to re-read every few years. I find its directness and apparent honesty moving. There is a sense of inevitability about the events that make it more of a classic tragedy than a jazz autobiography.
Half way through my fourth reading I decided I ought to hear some of the music Art Pepper recorded. I did a web search, and ended up with Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and The Return of Art Pepper. Maybe the book should be re-issued with these discs included...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Aug 1999
Format: Paperback
I have read this book twice now. The first time I read it, being a fanatical fan of Art Pepper and having seen him at his best, and worst, I was looking for reasons why Art had such a difficult life. I was impressed by his compelling and brutal self-appraisal. The book underscores Pepper's music, which is brutally self-revealing, and helps us see the connection between life and art. The second time I read it, I tried to find out whether it would help me understand the music, and it failed there. There is little of the music in this book. It does not go much into his musical life; it is mainly about Art as a man, not a musician. And remember Art did not write the book, his wife Laurie did, but of course she taped Art's comments on his life and edited them. It is revelatory, of course, but one would have wished that she had asked him more pointed questions about the music. Otherwise, as an autobiography, it ranks up there with the best in history. Hail, Art Pepper, the greatest saxophone player of our day!
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