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on 19 February 1999
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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on 1 April 1999
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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on 2 May 2009
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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on 12 May 1998
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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on 14 January 2013
I was prompted by other reviews to buy and glad I did, it's a great read even if you are not a jazz lover. I particularly enjoyed the contributions by Art's friends and acquaintances in the music business. There were so many names that he played with which I remembered from the personnel listings on LPs the nostalgia renewed my interest and love for the great music of the 50s and 60s era again.
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on 1 April 2013
This is an amazing testament to the life of what must be considered one of the greatest alto saxophone jazz players of all time. His life of fighting drug addiction, imprisonment and his magical playing is breath taking.
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on 19 December 1999
Musicians will derive a great pleasure from this autobiography as Art Pepper talks about crazy times on tour, wrangles with management and group leaders, being flush with cash and also not having enough for your next meal in your pocket: in short, a musician's life. However Pepper's highs were very high indeed - he was pulling in a giant wage as his big band's star altoist, and he played with many of the greatest of his day - but his lows plumbed the depths. There is a passage of pure exhilaration as he depicts a cutting contest with Sonny Stitt which is as good a piece of writing on the sheer power of music as may be found anywhere. You may not like Pepper but it might have been fun to have knocked around with him for a short while. This is no work of literature in terms of style, but the book builds a compelling image of the period. Students of slang will also appreciate 'Straight Life', Pepper having great experience of both prison and music. If you like your books dull, then you won't enjoy his story!
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on 1 August 1999
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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on 8 October 1997
This book is an honest account of a life which was anything but straight. Art Pepper succeeded in becoming one of the finest alto saxophonists of all time despite his hopeless drug addiction. His autobiography holds nothing back, and gave me a real sense of what a powerful grip his singular weakness had over him throughout his life. This is a book I will never forget, and I recommend it even to those who have never heard about Art Pepper. It goes beyond jazz biography, as a book about life as a heroin junkie, criminal, prisoner, and about a man who could not help but destroy all his successes. Read it.
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on 19 February 1999
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.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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