Pepper Adams

7 Classic Albums

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Europe's Real Gone Jazz label keeps to a rigorous release schedule in issuing recordings that are no longer under copyright protection on their side of the Atlantic. This volume, by Detroit baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, contains 37 tracks from 1957 to 1960 spread over four discs. It includes some of his finest early sides, often co-led with other artists. The music is not presented in chronological order. Jazzmen Detroit, from 1959 on Savoy, was originally entitled Kenny Clarke Meets the Detroit Jazzmen. The drummer and saxophonist are joined by the all-Detroit lineup of guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Tommy Flanagan, and bassist Paul Chambers. MGM's The Pepper-Knepper Quintet dates from 1958; Adams plays the frontline baritone and trombone atop a rhythm section featuring pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Elvin Jones. The earliest set here is Critic's Choice, recorded in 1957 for World Pacific. It is Adams' own session, and includes drummer Mel Lewis, pianist Jimmy Rowles, Watkins on bass, and trumpeter Lee Katzman, who plays on five of the seven tunes. Also from 1957, this time on Savoy, is The Cool Sound of Pepper Adams, with George Duvivier and the rare pairing of Detroit brothers Hank Jones on piano and Elvin on drums. The Pepper Adams Quintet (originally the Pepper Adams 5) is a lesser known but high quality Interlude session from 1959 with bassist Leroy Vinnegar, pianist Carl Perkins, Lewis in the drum chair, and Stu Williamson on trumpet. The Bethlehem date Motor City Scene is co-led by Donald Byrd, though he and Adams don't always play together. It reunites the Detroit Jazzmen with Louis Hayes on drums. Adams' all-killer, no filler classic 10 to 4 at the Five Spot with Byrd, Elvin Jones, Watkins, and pianist Bobby Timmons, rounds out the collection. This set is inexpensive, but it should be noted that you get what you pay for: sound quality is nowhere near what the individual reissues achieved, and in some cases it sounds like the sources were not master tapes but vinyl. Hardcore Adams fans will more than likely have everything here.