Personnel: Art Pepper (saxophone); George Cables (piano); George Mraz (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, New York, New York on July 28, 1977. Originally released on Contemporary (7642).
Art Pepper was considered by many to be the finest alto saxophonist of his generation, but the Californian jazzer never played on a stage in New York City as a leader until the late 1970s. This was mostly due to his ongoing drug problems, which landed him in jail and/or rehab centers on a number of occasions. Finally, in 1977, Pepper made his New York debut.
Although Pepper's bandmates--pianist George Cables, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Elvin Jones--had just met right before this recording, their lack of rehearsal adds to the performance's spontaneity. Pepper plays with more passion and heart than he does on any other album, bar none. Never before has Pepper's fervor for jazz, and his role within it, been so pronounced. After 40 years on the stage, he was just now proving himself to New York audiences, and this undoubtedly had an effect on his playing. The set, consisting of five lengthy pieces, begins with the subtle waltz "Valse Triste," then moves on to "Goodbye," an absolutely gorgeous ballad dedicated to pianist Hampton Hawes. Three solid blues numbers close this remarkable outing.