Art Pepper

The Way It Was

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Despite his very erratic lifestyle, altoist Art Pepper never made a bad record. This collection is better than most. The first four titles team together Pepper with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, pianist Ronnie Ball, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Gary Frommer for generally intriguing explorations of four standards. One can feel the influence of Lennie Tristano (with Pepper in Lee Konitz's place), although Pepper had his own sound and a more hard-swinging style. The success of the Pepper-Marsh front line makes one wish that they had recorded together again. The other three selections are leftovers from a trio of classic Pepper albums, and all are quite worthwhile. Pepper is heard backed by three separate rhythm sections, which include pianists Red Garland, Dolo Coker, or Wynton Kelly; either Paul Chambers or Jimmy Bond on bass; and Philly Joe Jones, Frank Butler, or Jimmy Cobb on drums. Overall, this album sticks to bop standards and finds Art Pepper in top form.

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