Art Pepper

A Night at the Surf Club, Vol. 2 [Xanadu]

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Altoist Art Pepper was 26 when he led the quartet heard on this Xanadu LP at the Surf Club in Hollywood. The earliest documentation of Pepper as a bandleader is this album and its follow-up, The Late Show. Even at this early stage Pepper largely had his own sound (he never chose to copy Charlie Parker) and he was a creative improviser. The sound quality of these tapes is not state-of-the-art, but the performances by Pepper (who also plays some effective clarinet on "Rose Room"), pianist Hampton Hawes, bassist Joe Mondragon and Larry Bunker on drums and vibes are consistently excellent. The repertoire, standards and Pepper "originals" based on fairly common chord changes, is typical of the era but Pepper's often-brilliant solos already put him near the top of his field.

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