Monday, June 02, 2014

Tunes that got me listening to Jazz #3 Art Pepper - Softly as in a morning Sunrise

It's been a long time since I thought about this recording, but then I came across it recently as I wanted to go over the changes of this fabulous standard. Art Pepper was one of my first influences on saxophone. I was introduced to him by a friend on a visit to India, and was instantly drawn to his cool soft tone and rhythmic phrasing. Quite unlike some of the alto players I was used to. I had heard him described as a 'man walking on eggshells' and his sound is exactly that. Not a heavy sound, but one that seamlessly weaves his way through the music.

I must admit, though he is one of my favourite saxophonists, I have not enjoyed all of his albums. In his later ones, though his ballads were as good as they ever were, (maybe even better) he had lost some of the edge and freshness in his phrasing, and we were not hearing the abundance of ideas like before. Here though with the famous Miles Davis rhythm section of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb he really is at his best. They provide him the perfect platform and his solos are some of the best you will hear.

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