A 1981 session recorded live over three nights in August 1981 (less than a year before Art Pepper's early death), Arthur's Blues is straightforward hard bop in the classic style. The alto saxophonist is backed by his regular touring band, pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams, and drummer Carl Burnette, and the quartet burns through a set of standards and originals that covers Pepper's full range of playing styles, from the frantic bebop of the opening "Donna Lee," which Pepper and group take at an unusually fast tempo, to a delicate take on the ballad standard "But Beautiful" that features some uncharacteristically free, almost Paul Bley-like piano runs by Cables underneath a tasteful but exploratory solo by Pepper. However, the highlight is the title track, Pepper's last great recording. A 15-minute groove that swings from soulful and funky blues to an intense climax, "Arthur's Blues" puts to rest the rumors that Art Pepper's chops had deserted him in his final years.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason