Ophelia

by Art Pepper

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From Why I Stuck with a Junkie Jazzman:

The two older originals [on Living Legend] were an incredibly lovely, very slow ballad, “Lost Life,” which he’d written in prison, a wistful dirge, and the multi-paced “Ophelia,” which Art said he wrote “for women” back in the early ’60s. It was inspired by his suicidal junkie second wife, Diane.

At the time, even with my untrained ear, I knew that “Ophelia” was an exceptional piece of music and loved it. It’s a composition that illustrates Art’s genius for a dramatic structured narrative and embodies, in the actual chart, as no standard could, all Art’s morphing ambiguities of mood, his subtlety, mystery, and sweetness, his solid, swinging funkiness, and the chaos in his rage. It also maps the full range of his musical experience, from blues and swing to bebop and beyond, his evolution as an artist. Before I heard “Ophelia,” I’d based my respect for Art on the opinions of others and then on the effect on me of his beauty and swing. Now Art’s music was teaching me how to listen and what to listen for.

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released May 12, 2014
Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Charlie Haden, Shelly Manne

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Art Pepper Los Angeles, California

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