Omnivore Recordings is continuing its association with the late saxophone great Art Pepper with a new box set. On September 13, the label will issue Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings on 5 CDs and digital platforms, collecting all four of Pepper's albums for John Snyder's Artists House label with bonus material.
Producer Snyder had long wished to record Pepper, and to that end, booked him into a week at the Village Vanguard in New York. But the sax man was under contract to Contemporary Records, whose head Les Koenig opted to record the stint himself. Pepper, however, remained committed to recording for Snyder, the result of which was four albums recorded in 1979 and released in the ensuing years.
The four albums comprising The Complete Artists House Recordings feature Pepper's takes on numerous jazz standards including "Stardust," "Straight No Chaser," "A Night in Tunisia," "Body and Soul," "You Go to My Head," and "Desafinado." All albums have all been remastered and expanded for this release, while an additional 11 session takes appear on a bonus fifth CD. In total, 19 bonus tracks are spread across the set, some of which have appeared on compilations and some of which appear for the first time.
"Art Pepper had had a brilliant career as a jazz soloist and band leader until the mid-1950s when he started using heroin," writes Pepper's widow, Laurie Pepper, in the box set's liner notes. "After that, incarcerations and treatments in prisons and hospitals kept him off the stages and out of the studios. He was only able to record sporadically until he got (relatively) sober in Synanon in 1972, and married -- me. Then, in the last ten years of his life, he composed, recorded, and toured more ambitiously than ever before, focused on securing his place among the true jazz greats -- where he knew he belonged." Laurie Pepper has also furnished Omnivore with rare photographs of the sessions for inclusion in this collection.
As for the title Promise Kept, Laurie Pepper recalls, "John and Art both kept their promises. John brought Art into the wider world; he put him on the road. Just as he said he would, he brought him to New York and to the Village Vanguard, got his picture in the papers, got him on the radio. From Art, John got his dearest wish. He made these 32 recordings."
Look for Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings on September 13 from Omnivore Recordings at the links below!
Disc One: So In Love (Artists House AH 9142, 1980)
- Straight, No Chaser (Take 3)
- Blues For Blanche
- So In Love
- Yesterdays (Take 2)
- Straight, No Chaser (Take 4)*
Disc Two: Artworks (Galaxy 5148, 1984)
- Body And Soul
- Anthropology (Take 2)
- Desafinado (Take 2)
- Donna Lee
- You Go To My Head
- Blues For Blanche (Alternate A)
- Desafinado (Take 1)*
- Anthropology (Take 1)* 9. Donna Lee (Alternate A)
Disc Three: New York Album (Galaxy 5154, 1985)
- A Night In Tunisia (Take 2)
- Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)
- Straight, No Chaser (Take 2)
- Duo Blues
- My Friend John
- Johnny's Blues
- A Night In Tunisia (Take 1)*
- Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be) (Clarinet)*
- Straight, No Chaser (Take 1)
- My Friend John (Alternate)
Disc Four: Stardust (Victor VIJ-6442, 1985)
- My Friend John (Alternate A)
- Tin Tin Deo
- Stardust (Alternate A)
- In A Mellow Tone (Take 2)
- Art's Sweet Blues
- But Beautiful (Take 1)
- You Go To My Head (Alternate B)*
- Yesterdays (Take 3)*
- Stardust (Alternate B)*
- Blues For Blanche (Alternate B)
- You Go To My Head (Alternate A).
Disc Five: Sessions
- Blues For Blanche (Alternate C)*
- Yesterdays (Take 1)*
- My Friend John (Take 1 - Long False Start)*
- My Friend John (Take 2 - False Start)*
- Blues For Blanche (Alternate D)*
- Stardust (Long False Start)*
- Donna Lee (Alternate B)*
- But Beautiful (Take 2)
- A Night In Tunisia (Take 3)*
- Blues For Blanche (Alternate E)* Lover Man (Oh Where
- Can You Be) (Alternate Sax Take)*
(*) denotes previously unissued track