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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Four Classic Albums

PHONO 870332



AmazonUK   AmazonUS


The Pepper Adams Quintet/
Critics' Choice

PHONO 870332




1. Afternoon In Paris

2. You Turned The Tables On Me

3. Apothegh

4. Your Host

5. Cottontail

6. Tom's Thumb

7. Minor Mishap

8. Blackout Blues

9. High Step

10. Zec

11. Alone Together

12. 5021


1. Unforgettable

2. Baubles, Bangles And Beads

3. Freddie Froo

4. My One And Only Love

5. Muezzin

6. 'Tis

7. You're My Thrill

8. The Long Two/Four

9. Hastings Street Bounce

10. Yourna

Pepper Adams (baritone sax) with CD1 tracks 1-6 Kenny Burrell (guitar): Tommy Flanagan (piano): Paul Chambers (bass): Kenny Clarke (drums). CD1 tracks 7-12 Lee Katzman (trumpet): Jimmy Rowles (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Mel Lewis (drums): CD2 tracks 1-5 Stu Williamson (trumpet): Carl Perkins (piano): Leroy Vinegar (bass): Mel Lewis (drums) CD2 tracks 6-10 Donald Byrd (trumpet): Bobby Timmons (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded 1956-58

AVID AMSC 1164 [74:42 + 70:58]

Pepper Adams

1. Unforgettable

2. Baubles, Bangles And Beads

3. Freddie Froo

4. My One And Only Love

5. Muezzin

6. Minor Mishap

7. Blackout Blues

8. High Step

9. Zec

10. Alone Together

11. 5021

12. Four Funky Folk (bonus track)

Pepper Adams (baritone sax) with Stu Williamson (trumpet): Carl Perkins (piano): Leroy Vinegar (bass): Mel Lewis (drums); with Lee Katzman (trumpet): Jimmy Rowles (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Mel Lewis (drums); with Herbie Steward (tenor sax): Jimmy Rowles (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Mel Lewis (drums)

Recorded 1957

PHONO 870332 [76:29]

The 1956-58 sides by hard bop baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams contain some of his most incisive and brilliant music on disc. Jazzmen Detroit, featuring the elite collaboration of Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers and Kenny Clarke offers six tracks, one self-penned, two by Burrell, that showcase the virtuosity and contrapuntal precision of the ensemble, the dovetailing of sax and guitar especially effective for drenching the sound in vertical breadth of sound. Voice leading is always pertinent in a group of this kind and this is an especially fine example. For the first album under his name, Critics’ Choice, Adams teamed up with trumpeter Lee Katzman – of Stan Kenton’s band - Jimmy Rowles, Doug Watkins and Mel Lewis. This LP offered slightly more space for the players to stretch out and that’s especially useful in Adams’ case where we can hear vestiges of the influence of Coleman Hawkins in Adams’ aggressive, slightly angular turns of phrase, as well as the abiding influence of Ellington’s Harry Carney. Adams’ tough lyricism is heard at its most marked in Blackout Blues, and his mastery of double-tempo in High Step. His is a galvanic presence here. Tight tempi were his forte and brisk, almost brusque trades of eights festoon Zec with incendiary drama.

The Pepper Adams Quintet (July 1957) witnesses another change of personnel bar Mel Lewis. Adams had a penchant for rebooting standards via the application of pressure-cooker tempi. Pianist Carl Perkins plays with distinction though with a less volcanic aura than Adams on the decidedly up-tempo version of Unforgettable with which the LP opens. My One and Only Love reveals Adams in his tough-love ballad persona – a confluence of Hawkins and Ben Webster at their most taut. The final album is 10 to 4 at the 5 Spot (natty title) which was recorded at the café in question in April 1958. This was a live date and teams Adams with Donald Byrd, Bobby Timmons, Doug Watkins and Elvin Jones. Adams clearly had expensive tastes in collaborating musicians. The group remakes You’re My Thrill in its own image, taking it slowly, never allowing it to settle however, constantly submitting it to boppish angularities and harmonic hints. Timmons proves what a fine player he was and Watkins reprises the arco solos he employed in Critics’ Choice, to considerable effect. Both remain underrated musicians. Hastings Street Bounce is a down-home 12-bar blues and shows how Adams had assimilated the Old Testament nature of the idiom perfectly naturally into his playing and could draw on it at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile Byrd shows considerable sensitivity in his own tune, Yourna. The interplay between the quintet is absolutely first-class and this is a special live session full of drive, drama, and refinement.

All four albums are packaged in Avid’s twofer which reprints the original liner notes. Pepper Adams Quintet and Critics’ Choice come on a single disc from Phono which similarly reprints the notes but also includes an appreciation from Pieter Grauber, Downbeat reviews and attractive photographs. Phono also includes a fine bonus track, Four Funky Folk, also from 1957, with Rowles, Watkins, and Lewis but also with Herbie Steward. Both these releases are excellent and offer first-class sound quality but if I were an Adams admirer I would certainly not want to be without the Five Spot session on Avid.

Jonathan Woolf

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