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The Hollywood All-Star Sessions

  out of 4 Music Review: The Hollywood All-Star Sessions

Artist: Art Pepper
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: 1979

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
No rating supplied

"The Hollywood All-Star Sessions" set gathers music from seven LPs recorded between 1979 and 1982 on the Japanese Atlas label by Art Pepper (alto saxophone) and various musicians. The sessions haven't been issued in the U.S. on CD, including two unissued alternate takes. The label Atlas wanted Art and his band(s) to replicate the sound of the West Coast Jazz of the fifties. There was (and is) a huge market for jazz in Japan, and the label wanted to capitalize on it.

Laurie Pepper, Art's widow, fills the accompanying booklet with commentary about Art and his undertakings as a bandleader, or sideman in disguise as it were. Because of contractual obligations to the Galaxy label Art couldn't be the featured artist on the recordings. It was obvious to all concerned who was the leader of the sessions though. I enjoyed Laurie's commentary (she produced the set as well) as much as the music. It was insightful and interesting to read while taking the sessions in.

Art Pepper was an intense a person, and his musical abilities equaled that level of intensity. He suffered through heroin addiction and jail terms before completing some of his best work (found on these discs and in the seventies). The sixties were wasted in a jail cell. While he died at a fairly young age (56), his music remains as young and vibrant as the day it was recorded. According to his wife Laurie, every session belonged to Art except the fifth, which she felt Art was relegated to a sideman. His soft tones and smooth time signatures lent itself to bringing all the musicians he surrounded himself with to another level of musical attainment. After all, greatness is exponential when one is involved with give and take musical sessions with your peers and those whose thoughts and expressions that you value. This boxed set is an example of that kind of situation found in the studio.

With guests such as Sonny Stit, Leo Konitz, Carl Burneet, Russ Freeman, Bob Magnuson, and Jack Sheldon, Pepper was engaged by some of the best in the business. With such good company it is quite fitting that these recordings were dubbed the all-star sessions. I find it difficult to say the least to be able to come close to the personal viewpoint and understanding that Pepper's wife Laurie had of her husband's career. As a lover of great jazz it's easy enough to convey the good feelings that music like this gives me. I am not a musician, so to appreciate the subtleties of Pepper's genius is another matter in and of itself. Regardless of my qualifications, I can appreciate the artistry of the man. He was a true leader and not an innovator (as stated by Laurie). Art Pepper was an original musician with the character and intestinal fortitude to do it his way. Because of that attitude he created some of the best jazz of our time.

This set is a long lost treasure that will give you many hours (literally) of enjoyment on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Disc: 1
1. Just Friends
2. Begin The Beguine
3. For Art's Sake
4. Angel Eyes
5. P. Town
6. Funny Blues (alternate)
7. Angel Wings
8. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
9. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
10. Jack's Blues

Disc: 2
1. Broadway
2. Historia De Un Amor
3. Minority
4. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (alternate)
5. Broadway (alternate)
6. Strike Up The Band
7. You Go To My Head
8. I Surrender, Dear
9. Y.I. Blues
10. Night And Day
11. Everything Happens To Me

Disc: 3
1. Out Of Nowhere
2. Y.I. Blues (alternate)
3. Scrapple From The Apple
4. Wee
5. Bernie's Tune
6. How High The Moon
7. Walkin'
8. Groovin' High
9. Groovin' High (alternate)

Disc: 4
1. Atlas Blues
2. Lester Leaps In
3. My Funny Valentine
4. Imagination
5. Just Friends
6. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
7. Hollywood Jam Blues
8. Lover, Come Back To Me
9. Limehouse Blues

Disc: 5
1. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
2. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You (alternate)
3. S'Wonderful
4. Whims Of Chambers
5. A Minor Blue In F
6. High Jingo
7. The shadow Of Your Smile
8. Anniversary Song
9. Cherokee
10. S'Wonderful (alternate)
11. Whims Of Chambers (alternate)



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