Laurie Pepper founded Widow’s Taste Records in 2006 to “introduce unreleased and unheard Art to people who love him as well as to people who don’t yet know him, so they can fill their lives with soulful beauty.” Since then, the label has been releasing prime Pepper recordings on an annual basis. Widow’s Taste’s latest offering, Unreleased Art Pepper, Vol. VII
, is a two-CD set recorded in November 1980 in Osaka, Japan. Its August 28 release will coincide with that of Neon Art: Volume One
, the first of three Art Pepper
vinyl singles scheduled for 2012 release by Omnivore Recordings.
The Osaka session is a happy one, swinging and melodic. It reunites the alto saxophonist with pianist George Cables, and “Art’s mood was sunny throughout this trip,” recalls Laurie, “because he loved being on the road with George and loved working with him every night.”
Other reasons for Art’s cheer (he mentions them onstage): The acclaim accorded his just-published book Straight Life
, co-authored with Laurie, and the satisfaction he felt after completing his ballad album with strings, Winter Moon
(Galaxy). Art’s inspired live performance of “Winter Moon” at this Osaka concert is, as far as Laurie knows, the only one extant and one good reason for releasing this material.
The vinyl singles owe their existence to Omnivore Recordings’ Cheryl Pawelski, who happened to hear the burning version of Art’s deeply funky tune “Red Car” posted by Widow’s Taste last year as a free listen for the fans. Cheryl immediately called Laurie to ask if they could make a deal for a vinyl release. They did. Between them they chose that “Red Car” and, for the flip side, an effervescent “Blues for Blanche.” “Art hated the idea that people put jazz in a pigeonhole,” says Laurie. “He said he wanted to make people forget the categories. ‘I want to make them open up and listen.’” Omnivore, with its comedy, pop, rock, and what-is-it catalog, is a vehicle that’s made to carry absolutely everything.
“When I first heard the live version of ‘Red Car’ from Parnell’s ,” says Pawelski, “I instantly wanted to share it with everyone I know, and that’s when I knew we had a project. Omnivore, by design, aims to share outstanding previously unissued music, and rarely is it as good and as much fun as these Art Pepper recordings. Omnivore is grateful to be working with Laurie Pepper to bring Art’s music to a new audience.” To which Laurie says, “Amen!”
Volumes Two and Three of Neon Art
are scheduled for October and November and offer greatest hits: Volume Two, “Mambo Koyama,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Allen’s Alley”; Volume Three, “Make a List,” “Everything Happens to Me,” and “Arthur’s Blues.” For more information about these singles, contact Paki Newell (email@example.com) and/or visit www.omnivorerecordings.com.
Widow’s Taste’s seventh Unreleased Art Pepper
is all about the music, especially the soulful “Winter Moon” and blazing “Make a List” performances. It was recorded by an anonymous audience member on cassette. The crowd was absolutely silent, Laurie recalls, “but the room is a presence; let’s just say it’s very live. So this particular album plants you firmly in the audience beside that sneaky fellow on that night at Sankei Hall.” It’s been remastered by Wayne Peet, as have all six preceding Widow’s Taste releases, and he revivifies this show. The album also includes a 32-page booklet, packed with photos of the tour and, as usual, Laurie’s gossipy reminiscences of life on the front lines.
By the time of this recording, Art had settled on his favorite drummer, Carl Burnett, who appears on almost every recording Art made during his last years. Tony Dumas was the youngest, shyest member of the band, but he’s impressive, and Art says so. With Tony Art made Landscape
and Besame Mucho
(Galaxy). And Tony is the bassist on last year’s best-seller for Widow’s Taste, Blues for the Fisherman
, the four-disc set from Ronnie Scott’s in London. George Cables is on the historic Art Pepper Live at the Village Vanguard
set, The Trip
, and No Limit
(Contemporary) plus all the Galaxy Maiden Voyage albums, Tête-à-Tête
, and Goin’ Home
. He’s also featured with Carl on Unreleased Art Pepper, Vol. I: Abashiri
(Widow’s Taste) and on upcoming Neon Art: Volumes Two and Three
George will be heard on more releases in the years to come. In fact, a treasure trove of hitherto unheard material has quite recently been unearthed, much of it recorded directly from the sound boards at great concerts in Japan, where Art returned repeatedly. While much of the material is the same from gig to gig, each version stands alone and fresh as Art engages with it. In store are not-to-be-missed performances—and some surprise unique tracks like this “Winter Moon.”