Art Pepper’s West Coast Sessions! albums—Volume 1 featuring Sonny Stiit, Volume 2 featuring Pete Jolly—coming form Omnivore Recordings on Feb. 3.
Released as original albums only in Japan until now, these collectible sessions will now be available worldwide. Both volumes feature previously unheard bonus tracks plus notes by Laurie Pepper.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Art Pepper, the alto saxophonist who became a significant figure in the West Coast jazz movement through his recordings with Stan Kenton and his vast 55-year solo discography, was an at artistic zenith in the late ’70s. The Japanese label Atlas approached Pepper, hoping to have him record for the company, but Pepper was under contract to another label at the time. Pepper’s wife, Laurie, suggested he record for Atlas ostensibly as a “sideman.” Atlas was looking to capture the straight-ahead, breezy bebop that made the West Coast sound so sweet, so Pepper chose the “leaders” who could deliver that sound. His choices included fellow jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt and pianist Pete Jolly, as highlighted in these first two releases, and Lee Konitz, Bill Watrous, Jack Sheldon and Shelly Manne, coming in future volumes of the series. Pepper continued to record prolifically until his death in 1982.
On February 3, 2017, the first three LPs are set for release as expanded CD reissues on Omnivore Recordings: Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 1: Sonny Stitt (a two-CD set), and Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 2: Pete Jolly (a single CD).
Originally issued as Groovin’ High and Atlas Blues: “Blow! & Ballade” by Sonny Stitt and His West Coast Friends in 1980, the two Stitt releases have been combined to present the material recorded in July of that year with Stitt and Pepper on sax, Russ Freeman and Lou Levy on piano, bassists John Heard and Chuck DeMonico, and Carl Burnett on drums. Twelve songs were performed, recorded, and released to the joy of jazz fans, but the albums were originally only issued in Japan. Now, as Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 1: Sonny Stitt, they are available again—this time for the whole world. In addition to tracks compiled on 2001’s The Hollywood All-Star Sessions boxed set, this double CD also contains three previously unissued takes mixed from the original multi-tracks.
Strike Up The Band, featuring Pete Jolly and His West Coast Friends, was recorded in February of 1980, with Jolly on piano, Pepper on sax, bassist Bob Magnusson, and Roy McCurdy on drums, and released that year only in Japan. Retitled Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 2: Pete Jolly, this collection too is finally available again. In addition to tracks compiled on 2001’s The Hollywood All-Star Sessions boxed set, this CD also contains a previously unissued take mixed from the original multi-tracks. Both albums contain new liner notes from Laurie Pepper.
Laurie Pepper explains the concept of the two albums in her liner notes: “In 1977 Art came back from the dead. Or so it seemed to those who followed him, followed his music. And then in 1979, the Japanese came calling in the guise of a small record label, Yupiteru, later Atlas. They wanted Art to record for them. By then, Art was under exclusive contract to Fantasy/Galaxy records and couldn’t record as a leader. However, and I think I deserve credit for this sneaky idea, he could be a ‘sideman.’ And he could choose the ‘leaders.’ He did six albums for Atlas with six terrific ‘leaders.’ And they are classics, now.”
Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 1: Sonny Stitt CD / Digital List:
1. Scrapple From The Apple
3. Bernie’s Tune
4. How High the Moon
6. Groovin’ High
About Omnivore Recordings:
Founded in 2010 by highly respected, longtime industry veterans Cheryl Pawelski, Greg Allen, Dutch Cramblitt, and Brad Rosenberger, Omnivore Recordings preserves the legacies and music created by historical, heritage, and catalog artists while also releasing previously unissued, newly found “lost” recordings and making them available for music-loving audiences to discover. Omnivore Recordings is distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA).
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