The selections on this sampler are taken from a five-disc set entitled The Hollywood All-Star Sessions, which itself is a compilation of albums that were originally recorded between 1979 and 1982. For contractual reasons, Pepper was not credited as the leader on these sessions, but he appears to have been the one setting the tone and selecting takes in all cases. As is the case with most of the recordings Pepper made for Galaxy during this period, the robustness and clarity of his tone belie his increasingly fragile health (he would, in fact, die only a few months after the latest of these sessions). Teamed with a variety of illustrious sidemen -- including trombonist Bill Watrous, pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Bob Magnusson, and fellow reedmen Lee Konitz and Sonny Stitt -- Pepper is featured here on a solid set of jazz standards, and if he doesn't exactly break much new ground with his interpretations, he easily manages to make them sound fresh and exciting. Particular highlights include a gorgeous take on "Begin the Beguine" (notice Freeman's elegant piano filigrees during the first chorus) and a long but muscular rendition of "How High the Moon." Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson