This is a pirated album, released in Spain: Art Pepper live at the jazz showcase in Chicago 1977. With Willie Pickens, Steve Rodby, Wilbur Campbell. While I can’t afford to re-issue it here as a cd, I figure it’s worth releasing on the basis of some lovely performances.
This was recorded in ‘77 in the middle of Art’s East Coast Tou , sponsored by John Snyder. The tour ended in NYC, when the earthshaking Vanguard recordings were made with George Cables, George Mraz, and Elvin Jones. In the meantime, Art played here and there with pickup bands. This one one of them.
As I recall, Art didn’t get along with Willie Pickens at all. I don’t know why, I just remember Art grumbling about him. And when I listen to the first track, Pepperpot, I can certainly hear a lack of sympathy on Willie’s part. Again, I don’t know why. On the other hand, Art liked Wilbur Campbell a lot, and he just LOVED Steve Rodby -- who might have still been in his teens at this time. He liked Rodby so much, in fact, he brought him to New York for the Vanguard date. It was Elvin who complained. He said that Rodby was great, but much too green for what was about to happen. At the last minute George Mraz, an absolute genius in every way and quite mature enough for Elvin or anybody else, stepped in, read the hardest charts, and dealt philosophically with Art’s total insanity and brilliance. One more thing. Why so many ballads? Art usually played one ballad a night. On this night, why so many? A mystery. And one more comment. This version of “My Laurie” is nice, but the one Art and his band played in Yamagata blows it away. Mainly because the “bluesish” stuff mentioned in the liner wasn’t bluesish enough. In fact the total set lacks funk. But it doesn’t lack for beauty! The Trip is marvelous. Imagination is wonderful. Funny Valentine is nice, too, but cuts out early. Maybe the tape ran out? Anyway, here’s the absolutely complete liner that was written by Ricky Cohen:
Art Pepper at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, 1977 With Willie Pickens, Steve Rodby, Wilbur Campbell Liner Note by Ricky Cohen “In ‘76 I’d made another album for Contemporary. The Trip. The ‘75 album, Living Legend, was excellent, and I thought, after that, the next album couldn’t possibly be as good. It was even better. It got a lot of praise. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time, and it pushed me into the limelight a little bit. I got an offer to tour the East Coast. I’d never toured before as an individual. Here I was in my fifties, and I’d finally made it. I was invited to perform at the Newport Festival. I was scared, so I didn’t carry any coke with me. I played in Toronto for a week, then New York. On the last day of my appearance at the Village Vanguard, a friend, to my surprise, offered me a taste of coke. I had the money, so I decided I’d use a little bit during the tour. Pretty soon I was staying up all night long, writing music in the toilets of our hotel rooms, sitting on the tile floor, sniffing coke. “By the time I got to Chicago, I was really strung out on coke. I asked around at the methadone program there if anyone knew a connection. We had rented a car, so I drove all over the city looking for some way to score. I wound up in an industrial area near a methadone clinic, and I saw a black guy and his old lady in an old, beat car. They were stalled or something. I drove over and introduced myself. I asked them if I could help them out. I said, ‘You wouldn’t know where I could get any coke?’ The guy said, ‘Yeah’. They took me to an old boarded up building in the black ghetto of Chicago. It was filthy, no running water. We shot the coke instead of sniffing it. I got an outfit. We went to Boston and Dayton and back to New York. Les Koenig came out from L.A. to record me, three nights, live at the Village Vanguard ... I’d had no sleep in days, hadn’t been eating. I’d lost about twenty pounds on this trip. None of my clothes fit me. I shot the rest of my coke, and they practically carried me to the Village Vanguard for the final night of recording!” -- ART PEPPER, from his autobiography Straight Life. Art Pepper’s musical comeback of the mid-’70s remains one of the most successful in jazz history. Despite serving time