Saturday, April 30, 2011

Michael Fremer Album Review

Will this seven LP Pepper set spice up your jazz record collection?

The Complete Art Pepper At Ronnie Scott's Club
(reissue/new issue)

Art Pepper

Pure Pleasure PPAN012 7 180g LPs

Produced by: Peter Bould
Engineered by: Peter Bould, Peter Ball and Graham Ward
Mixed by: N/A
Mastered by: Ray Staff at Air Mastering



Art Pepper Ronnie Scott Stand Issued Complete
by Michael Fremer
April 01, 2011

Alto sax bop legend Art Pepper (1925-1982) had accrued a lot of mileage but few OnePass points when he blew into London with his trio in June of 1980 to play a fortnight gig at the famous Ronnie Scott’s Club.

The group consisted of the hard charging classically trained Bulgarian émigré Milcho Leviev on piano, Tony Dumas on bass and Carl Burnett on drums. The latter two had worked in a trio with pianist George Cables and so already played in lockstep.

If you have any interest at all in Pepper the musician (and if you’re considering purchase of this pricey but astonishing 7 LP set chances are good you do), you should read “Straight Life The Story of Art Pepper” by Art and Laurie Pepper (Schirmer Books).

The autobiography is a can’t-put-it-down read wherein lays it all out: the junkie life, prison, playing jazz with the greats from Sonny Stitt to Benny Carter and most of all his unremorseful look at his own flawed character revealed without an ounce of self-pity.

“So between the Percodan and the Dexamyl and the Cosanyl and pot and juicing very heavy I was doing good because I wasn’t using heroin,” he writes about half way through the book. When that’s “doing good” you can only imagine his descriptions of “doing bad.”

If ‘50s jazz is your bag this book gives you an inside look at the lifestyle of the musicians who played and lived it from a white-hipster’s POV, written with charm, sincerity and most especially brutal honesty.

But we’re here to review the music and records not the book and even if you don’t buy the book, this package gives you plenty to chew on musically and in the written text that's included in the Mosaic style booklet that accompanies the seven LPs.

Pepper and his group arrived at Ronnie Scott’s not knowing how they would be received. To their great surprise, the response, not to mention the attendance, was overwhelming.

Appropriately, as word of the superb sets spread through London, the owners of Mole Jazz, then the city’s pre-eminent jazz record show, inquired about a live recording.

Arrangements were made and recordings were made of the Friday and Saturday sets June 27 and 28 1980. For some reason the credits on the original LPs claim Sunday night the 29th was also recorded.

The multi-mike analogue recording was mixed live to two track stereo without noise reduction, limiting, compression or equalization and when Ray Staff cut the original lacquers back in 1980 he used no noise reduction, limiting, compression or equalization (other than RIAA of course!).

Mole issued Blues For the Fisherman (Stereo Mole 1) a single LP containing two tracks per side as The Milcho Leviev Quartet since Pepper was then signed to the Galaxy label in America. Pepper wrote the liner notes extolling the virtues of Leviev’s piano playing and while they provided legal cover for the enterprise, they ring true as you’ll hear if you take the plunge and buy this set.

In 1981 Mole issued True Blues (Stereo Mole 5), a four tune follow up from the same date that included “Straight Life” but soon both records went out of print. Linn Music, a division of the audio manufacturer that makes the Sondek turntable briefly brought the first album back into print in the early ‘90s, as I recall it, pressed using the original metal parts and then that went out of print as well.

Art’s widow Laurie recently found the original tapes. She’d never played them but when that finally happened, she discovered they contained the complete recordings made over the course of those three evenings, complete with Art Pepper’s between song song.

Pure Pleasure licensed the material, a flat transfer was made and the tapes once again were given to Ray Staff, who edited where appropriate. Staff left all of the music and the between song patter, to produce this seven LP set that’s never less than fully riveting even though four tunes were repeated on the second day of recording, perhaps to assure there would be good takes for the final original LP and as is always the case in live performances there’s some time filling and vamping.

Nonetheless if you’re a Pepper fan, you’ll treasure every moment here that includes seventeen previously unreleased performances along with the eight already released on the two Mole Records releases.

Pepper plays throughout with the high energy enthusiasm, virtuosity and creativity of someone half his age, while his lyricism and gorgeous, sensitive ballad playing could only come from someone of his age.

Pepper picks up a clarinet—his first instrument—and plays a memorable take on Parker’s “Ornithology” and though he mumbles an apology afterwards, clearly none was needed.

You’ll agree that his enthusiasm for the sparkling playing of Leviev was well-deserved. The rest of the rhythm section plays with equal precision and sympathy.

The live recording quality is superb (though as with any live recording there are occasional glitches): intimate and closely miked, it presents a small club front row perspective that’s long on power, timbral accuracy and dynamics and short on room ambience. Given a choice, I’ll take the former every time. Pepper stands center stage in front of bassist Dumas, while Leviev’s piano is stage left and drummer Burnett’s kit is stage right. Sufficient mike leakage produces a coherent, well-integrated three-dimensional picture.

The Pallas pressing quality is high, the packaging, including a cloth textured box first class and the annotation, complete. There are four interviews with Pepper from 1979 and 1980, an illuminating essay written last year by Alun Morgan who provided the liner notes for the second original Mole album, nice photos and complete Mosaic-like credits.

As you listen you’ll hear Pepper at one point towards the end of the three-night stand single out a patron who attended every performance. Pepper hands him a magnum of champagne.

After you’ve gone through this seven LP set for the first time you’ll feel like popping the cork on a bottle yourself to celebrate Art Pepper and your good sense in buying and consuming this set that a decade ago would have been impossible to think could ever be issued on vinyl LPs cut from analogue tape.

Thanks to Pure Pleasure’s Tony Hickmott for having the guts to proceed with such a costly set that sounds considerably richer, fuller and more natural than the Linn reissue I have and that sounds plenty good too. It was worth the risk and is worth every penny of its considerable cost.

Thanks to Michael over at for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

©2011 & Michael Fremer - - All rights reserved

Reprinted by Permission

Vinyl Record News & Music Notes

OZZY OSBOURNE: 'The Pressure Of Doing A New BLACK SABBATH Album Is Enormous'

Last week Ozzy Osbourne stopped by the Rolling Stone offices to discuss his new album "Scream", his forthcoming world tour, the death of Ronnie James Dio and the possibility of a BLACK SABBATH reunion (see video below). "I love those guys — Bill [Ward, drums], Tony [Iommi, guitar] and Geezer [Butler, bass]," he told Rolling Stone about a possible return to SABBATH. "I never say never anymore because you never know what's going to come around."

Read the rest at Blabbermouth


Iggy Pop Covers The Beatles on New CD

Bryan Wawzenek

It looks like Iggy Pop fans won’t have a shortage of new material from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for quite some time. For one, he’s working on a new solo album that will follow-up his jazz-inspired 2009 record, Preliminaries. Pop told that the record will be “mostly ballads” written by other people, including “Michelle” by The Beatles and “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Fred Neil.

Read the rest at


Tom Morello to Release 'Union Town' to Benefit Unions

Tom Morello declared he was a union man to protest Governor Scott Walker's anti-union bill in Wisconsin. Consequently, he's putting his money where his mouth is so to speak and releasing the album 'Union Town' via New West Records digitally on May 17, with CD and vinyl releases to follow on July 19.

All profits from Union Town will benefit The America Votes Labor Unity Fund via

The set will contain eight pro-union songs: three Morello originals, as well as Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land Is Your Land" (including the more radical, often censored verses).

The song "Union Town" is available now at


MEGADETH's 'Peace' Expanded 25th-Anniversary Reissue Rocks Times Square

A photo of the upcoming expanded, commemorative 25th-anniversary reissue edition of MEGADETH's "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" album being advertised on the world's largest digital display system located in New York's Times Square via the 126-foot-wide, 47-foot-tall Reuters sign can be seen at Blabbermouth.

The 7,400-square-foot digital billboard, which soars 23 stories into the sky above Times Square, reaches more than 1.5 million people per day.

PR Newswire in 2007 entered into an agreement with TimesSquare2, a division of Reuters, to make its customers' photos and images viewable on the Reuters sign. The billboard features a regular stream of PR Newswire customer photos throughout each day. The photos are accompanied by a news-release headline, and are displayed in fifteen-second increments.

Read more and get the track list at Blabbermouth


Black Lips Reveal 'Arabia Mountain' Album Cover

Here it is, odd and certainly colorful!

The Mick Ronson assisted effort (he produced nine of the album's 16 tracks, with Deerhunter's Lockett Pundt helping on other tracks), is due to be released on June 7 via Vice. The press release says that "the production tests the limits of modern amplification technology, harkening to the full, meaty sound of Fun House or Lola Versus Powerman or whatever your favourite record of 1970 is."

In April, the band will kick off an expansive North American tour.

1. "Family Tree"
2. "Modern Art"
3. "Spidey's Curse"
4. "Mad Dog"
5. "Mr. Driver"
6. "Bicentennial Man"
7. "Go Out And Get It"
8. "Raw Meat"
9. "Bone Marrow"
10. "The Lie"
11. "Time"
12. "Dumpster Dive"
13. "New DIrection"
14. "Noc-a-homa"
15. "Don't Mess My Baby"
16. "You Keep On Running"


and in music history for today:

In 1957, Elvis recorded "Jailhouse Rock." The song went on to top the Cashbox Best Sellers list, the Billboard Hot 100, the R&B chart and even the Country and Western chart. It also became the first single to enter the UK chart at number 1. The tune was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller specifically for a scene in the movie of the same name.

In 1960, Fats Domino recorded "Walking to New Orleans."

In 1964, the Beatles received $140,000 for the rights to having their pictures included in packages of bubble gum in the USA.

In 1966, the Young Rascals enjoy the first of 14 Billboard Top 40 hits when "Good Lovin" reached #1

In 1970, Twiggs Lyndon, the road manager for The Allman Brothers Band, was arrested for murder after he stabbed a club manager during an argument over a contract. At the ensuing trial, Lyndon’s lawyers argue that he had been temporarily insane at the time of the incident and that touring with the Allman Brothers would drive anyone insane. Lyndon was acquitted.

In 1976, the Who's drummer Keith Moon paid nine cab drivers to block-off both ends of a New York street so he could throw the contents of his hotel room out of the window.

In 1977, Led Zeppelin broke a new world concert attendance record when playing to 76,229 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. The Who held the venue’s previous record with 75,962 in 1975.

In 1983, American blues legend Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) died at age 68 in his sleep at his home in Westmont, Illinois. He was a major influence on many British blues acts including The Yardbirds, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones even named themselves after one of his songs.

Phil Collins released "Sussudio" in 1985.

The Beatles' "Help!", "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" were released on compact disc in 1987.

Nirvana signed a recording contract with Geffen’s DGC label for $290,000 in 1991.

In 1999, 51 year old Darrell Sweet, drummer of the Scottish Rock group Nazareth, suffered a fatal heart attack just as the band was embarking on the second leg of a US tour. The band had arrived at the Amphitheater in New Albany, Indiana, when Sweet began feeling ill and within minutes went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the New Albany Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Nazareth is best remembered for their 1976 hit "Love Hurts", which was first recorded by The Everly Brothers in 1960.

In 2007, Zola Taylor, who broke gender barriers as the first female member of the 1950s R&B group The Platters, singing on their hit "The Great Pretender", died from complications of pneumonia. She was 69.

and in 2008, a giant inflatable pig, which floated away during a Roger Waters concert, was recovered in tatters. Two families from La Quinta, California, who found what was left of the inflatable animal, decided to share four lifetime tickets to the Coachella festival that were offered as part of the reward.

and a happy to birthday to Willie Nelson (1933)

The Royal Wedding Official Album Released Today

NEW YORK and LONDON, April 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in history, the Royal Wedding ceremony was recorded this morning and will be immediately released digitally today. Decca Records, one of Britain's historic record labels, will release Prince William and Catherine Middleton's entire wedding ceremony on the world's foremost download and streaming platforms within hours of the service ending.

The Official Album of the event was held in Westminster Abbey today -- April 29th -- and will be rush released, available everywhere in the U.S. on May 10th. Musicians who performed at the ceremony include The Choir of Westminster Abbey, The Chapel Royal Choir, The London Chamber Orchestra and The Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The Choirs were under the direction of Mr James O'Donnell and The London Chamber Orchestra conducted by its Music Director and Principle Conductor Mr Christopher Warren-Green.

Decca Records is a part of Universal Music, the world's leading record company, which also released the recording of The Wedding of Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981, and the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. The uniquely original new recording will be the next in a historic line to mark major milestones for the royal family, and as such it will enter the homes of millions across the whole world.

The physical album will include a special collector's booklet featuring the complete order of service, the readings, vows, hymns and blessings, and all the music from this global event with one the biggest audiences in television history. The format of release will be digital download, CD and vinyl to cater to consumers of all ages.

The album is produced by one of the world's finest classical record producers, Anna Barry, who has produced over 500 recordings of distinction for over 25 years, ranging from works by Andrew Lloyd Webber to opera at the Mariinsky Theatre with Valery Gergiev, and many other legendary artists including Jose Carreras and Zubin Mehta.

The multi-Grammy-nominated producer said of the Royal Wedding recording: "This is a great honor and an enormous responsibility. The wedding means so much to millions of people all over the world -- we had to capture every note and every nuance perfectly and have the recording ready within minutes of the end of the ceremony."

Dickon Stainer, President of Decca Records, said: "This will be the first Official Royal Wedding Album ever to enter the worldwide digital charts. It will capture a piece of history for a new generation."

David Joseph, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK, said: "The Official Album for The Royal Wedding will complement everyone's personal memories of the event. Thanks to digital technology we will be able to deliver it worldwide almost instantly -- it will be the fastest we have ever released an album of this stature."


1. The Arrival of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh – Fanfare

2. The Procession of The Queen - March from The Birds (Parry)

3. Prelude on Rhosymedre (Vaughan Williams)

4. The Procession of the Bride - Anthem: I Was Glad (Parry)

5. Hymn: Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer (Cwm Rhondda) (Hughes)

6. The Welcome and Introduction

7. The Marriage

8. The Vows

9. Hymn: Love Divine (Blaenwern) (Rowlands)

10. The Lesson

11. The Anthem: This is the Day Which The Lord Hath Made (Rutter)

12. The Address

13. The Motet: Ubi Caritas (Mealor)

14. The Prayers

15. Hymn: Jerusalem (Parry)

16. The Blessing

17. The National Anthem (Trad.)

18. The Signing of the Register - Blest Pair of Sirens (Parry)

19. Fanfare: Valiant and Brave (Stubbs)

20. The Procession of the Bride and Bridegroom - Crown Imperial (Walton)

21. Toccata from Symphonie V (Widor)

NB. Bold titles indicate spoken word

SOURCE Decca Label Group