Art Pepper may not be a recognizable figure to the general public, but he is a bright shining star in the jazz world. Pepper, of San Pedro, California was a child prodigy who fell in love with the music of Lester Young. As a teen, he was featured in Lee Young's (Lester's brother) band and with the great Benny Carter. Segregation forbade his touring with them so he joined Stan Kenton's group and quickly became a featured soloist. Pepper shared Stan Getz's good looks and an ability to fit into any musical situation yet retain his own voice, and became an in-demand session player and a solo star. Heroin claimed Pepper for well over a decade and he spent a substantial part of his life in and out of jail and recovery homes. In the '70s he picked his career up and released a string of excellent albums showing a new, tougher style. His biting autobiography, "Straight Life," is closer to literature than the usual celebrity tell-all; it may be the most self-critical, least flattering autobiography ever written.
Art Pepper Concert Films
Notes from a Jazz Survivor
Runtime: 49 minAn intensely personal and sometimes painful look into the fascinating world of Art Pepper. One of Jazz' greatest alto saxophonists and most expressive soloists, Pepper was also a thief, drug addict, alcoholic, womanizer, and world renown wildman. In candid interviews he recounts his triumphs, troubles, and luck in meeting Laurie, his last wife. For half the film Pepper leads a trio in a Malibu nightclub, the set includes: "Red Car", "Patricia", and "Miss Who?".
Art Pepper Top Tracks
Live at Montreux 1996
Runtime: 56 minWayne Shorter is one of the most significant jazz performers of modern times. He performed as part of Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers and then Miles Davis band in the sixties before co-founding Weather Report with Joe Zawinul in the early seventies. This Montreux concert from 1996 features the Wayne Shorter Quintet and followed on from the release of his Grammy Award winning album High Life.
Triumph of the Underdog
Runtime: 1 hr 18 minDon McGlynn's uncompromising and soulful documentary look at the tumultuous life of musician and rebel Charles Mingus is simply fascinating. Mingus said of himself "I am half black man, half yellow man, but I claim to be a Negro. I am Charles Mingus, the famed jazz musician--but not famed enough to make a living in America." His statement summed up the conflict that plagued this musical genius his entire life: volatility, pain, prescience, and raw rage roiled inside a complex man, composer, bass player, and trombonist who transcended labels and refused to be pigeonholed into a single musical style--and who did not achieve real fame until late in his career. The documentary is full of well-preserved footage and contains interviews with many Mingus followers like Wynton Marsalis as well as performances by icons Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Gerry Mulligan. The film traverses past the musical legend with insight and information into Mingus's personal life, his civil rights activism, and his final triumph in the music world--just as his body began to deteriorate from Lou Gehrig's disease--to his eventual death in 1979. Mingus left a legacy composed of genius, vulnerability, brilliance, anarchy, and, as one friend noted, "the entire range of human emotion that is reflected in his music.
Alto Saxophone Jazz Solos
Runtime: 50 minOne of the most individual of all alto saxophone players, the cool-toned LEE KONITZ has always had a strong musical curiosity that has led him to consistently take chances and stretch himself, usually quite successfully. The Jazz Sessions spotlights unaccompanied performances by some of the legends and bright young stars of the jazz world. Designed and recorded specifically for television, SOLOS offers viewers front row seats for an intimate and unique jazz experience. Each program features complete musical pieces, insightful interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage. Shot in stunning HDTV with multiple moving cameras and a medley of elegant cinematic lighting, SOLOS showcases an exciting and dynamic variety of jazz styles - from the blues and boogie-woogie to bebop and the experimental.