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in prison and suffering from serious health problems as a result of his heroin addiction, Pepper overcame tremendous obstacles and a decade of musical inactivity. He went on to produce numerous jazz masterpieces. The effects of his erratic living and substance abuse had caught up to him at the beginning of 1969 when he became seriously ill. Pepper entered the Synanon rehabilitation center later that year and would remain there until 1971. It was there that he met his wife Laurie, who would help him reconstruct his life. The saxophonist underwent a successful methadone treatment in 1975 (though he never did become drug free), which led to the prolific final stage of his career (1975-1982). His later work can be characterized by an increased musical maturity and emotional depth. Art Pepper would pass away from liver disease among other ailments on June 15, 1982, at the age of 56. This CD contains a previously unreleased concert recording at the legendary Jazz Showcase club in Chicago, on July 1 6, 1 977. The concert formed part of Pepper’s tour of the Northeast during June and July 1977. Record Producer John Snyder promoted and sponsored Pepper’s tour, which began in Toronto, Canada, where he was recorded live at the Bourbon Street Club on June 16 (backed by pianist Bernie Senensky, bassist Dave PiItch and drummer Terry Clarke). Pepper then performed in New York at the 1977 Newport Jazz Festival, on June 27 (although some discographies state that this was privately recorded, it has never surfaced). He also performed at New York’s Village Vanguard at the end of June, where he would make his legendary recordings a month later (on the nights of July 28-30, backed by pianist George Cables, bassist George Mraz and drummer Elvin ‘Jones). This earlier Village Vanguard performance marked Pepper’s very first gig at a New York club as a leader! (He had previously performed in New York in 1969, as a sideman in Buddy Rich’s big band.) The next stop on the tour was Chicago. The Jazz Showcase is widely regarded as the most prestigious jazz club in Chicago. Owner Joe Segal began presenting jazz shows at Roosevelt University in the mid-’40s. He founded the Jazz Showcase club in 1947, and it has served as a Windy City mainstay for top tier jazz musicians for generations. Ahmad Jamal recorded his trio album Chicago Revisited at the club in 1992. The Jazz Showcase has changed locations 10 times in its six- plus decades of existence. It relocated again in 2008 to Dearborn Station, where it is currently located. As stated in the excerpt from Pepper’s autobiography, this was his first tour as a single, and the band would change from city to city. The Chicago performance featured three of the city’s finest musicians: pianist Willie Pickens, bassist Steve Rodby and drummer Wilbur Campbell. The Jazz Showcase performance marks the only time that Pepper would ever record with any of these musicians. Pianist Willie Pickens was born into a musical family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His mother was an amateur pianist, who encouraged him to begin formal study of the instrument. He earned a teacher’s certificate from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in 1954, and received

a B.S. in Music Education at the University of Wisconsin in 1958. He then moved to Chicago, where he was quickly accepted among the city’s top musicians. “I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I graduated [from the University of Wisconsin] in 1958, there was a bass player [from Milwaukee] by the name of Connie Milano. He came over to Chicago, and he had a job, and he called me and asked me if I’d like to join him ... at a place called The Domino. And after that job folded I stayed around here, because the atmosphere was really good musically. We had people like Muhal Richard Abrams, we had a pianist by the name of Billy Green, we had Jodie Christian. We had John Young, we had Ira Sullivan, Nicky Hill, Wilbur Campbell. So it was quite an exciting scene here. The musicians were really warm and welcoming to me. I wasn’t planning on staying in Chicago, I was headed towards New York, but the scene was just so inviting, so I stayed around!’

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    Willie Pickens

Pickens’ debut recordings were made as a sideman for tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris on January 17, 1961, for the popular album Exodus to Jazz. Over the next two decades, Willie’s live appearances would be limited to the midwest, due to his budding career as a jazz educator. Apart from numerous studio dates with Eddie Harris, Pickens would also record with Bunky Green, E. Parker McDougal, Buddy DeFranco and Vernel Fournier, during the ‘60s and ‘70s. He also performed with Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, and Roberta Flack to name a few. During the ‘80s he recorded with Billy Mitchell and Cleveland Eaton, among others, and made his first album as a leader in 1987, titled It’s About Time! (which features Wilbur Campbell on two tracks). He joined The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine in 1990, where he participated on the albums In Europe, Going Home and It Don’t Mean a Thing. Pickens is 78-years old at this writing and shows no sign of slowing down. He remains one of the most respected and in-demand pianists in Chicago. One of the most intriguing aspects of Pepper’s 1977 Jazz Showcase performance is the presence of Steve Rodby who would gain fame as the bassist of Pat Metheny’s group. This previously unreleased concert marks one of Rodby’s first - if not his very first - known recordings. According to the Tom Lord discography, Rodby’s debut recording was as the sideman in an octet under the leadership of keyboard player Les Hooper in Chicago circa 1977. The next entry in his discography was a live concert recording at Villa Park, Illinois, during the summer of 1 977. The show featured a 19-piece band under the leadership of trombonist Phil Wilson. Whether or not this Chicago performance was Rodby’s very first recording, it is certainly his first known recording within a small band setting. “My big break came when the great bass player Rufus Reid, who played in the house band at the Jazz Showcase, moved to New York, so the gig was up for grabs. The owner of the club seemed to like the way I played, and I ended up playing five nights, three sets a night with all these amazing visiting musicians like Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt and Joe Henderson. The drummer in the house band

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