Sunday, June 18, 2017

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Releases Vol. 3 & 4 Of "Art Pepper's West Coast Sessions"

Omnivore Recordings has done an outstanding job covering the work of jazz saxophonist Art Pepper. Just last month they revisited "The Art Pepper Quartet" album by adding bonus tracks to the new remastered CD and earlier this year, they began releasing the "Art Pepper Presents 'West Coast Session!' Volume 1 & 2." On June 30, Omnivore Recordings will deliver volume 3 & 4 of the "West Coast Session" series.

Volume 3 centers around the recordings Art Pepper did with fellow alto sax player Lee Konitz. In 1982, Art Pepper recorded an album titled "High Jingo" that featured Lee Konitz and his west coast friends. The record company originally released that album under Leo Konitz name in Japan only. Now for the first time a CD in the U.S. we get an expanded reissue of that album that includes 2 bonus tracks from the sessions. The tracks had a certain groove to them that allowed Pepper and Konitz to showcase their skills as in the 8-minute "A Minor Blues In F." Art Pepper also performed clarinet on the slow, gentle melody of "The Shadow Of Your Smile," before the original album finished with the bright, high energy of "Cherokee." The two bonus tracks feature alternative takes of "S'wonderful" and "Whims Of Chambers." You really get a sense of how well the sessions went as even these alternative takes were just as good to be released on the album in place of the originals.

Volume 4 of the "West Coast Sessions!" series finds Art Pepper alongside trombone player Bill Watrous and his quintet. The album was titled "Funk'n Fun" and was released in Japan in 1979. Just like volume 3, the original album gets expanded with two bonus tracks for its U.S. debut. The Bill Waltrous Quintet were very skilled in their own right as they allow each player the spotlight on the album's opening track "Just Friends." They add a bit of energy to Cole Porter's "Begin The Beguine" and swing on "P. Town" as Waltrous and Pepper trade solos on this gem. The bonus tracks feature alternate takes of Pepper's own "Funny Blues" as the band expand upon the original and a more concise take of the quieter "Angel Eyes." To find out more about these two new volumes of "Art Pepper Present 'West Coast Sessions!'," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

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