The Prisoner by Lawrence, Desautels

from by Art Pepper

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Recorded At Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA, 1980 (The Winter Moon session) with Stanley Cowell, Howard Roberts, Cecil McBee, Carl Burnett plus strings

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From the Memoir:
I spat into his ear, “It stinks! It’s weak. It’s terrible. You’ve gotta give it more.”
He groaned to me about the stupid, useless chart, saying that
he’d done the best he could. But he went in for one last try.
A jazz soloist, especially a guy like Art, is, first of all,
a listener. Ask any band he ever played with. His art is to work
“in concert” with the arrangement and the other players, and
to comment on and build on what the music’s saying, creating
something new and individual, yet still harmonious. He must
complete the piece. And good musicians, playing with him, live,
would be inspired by him, by what he was creating, and rise to
the occasion. But in this case, and despite the live setting, the
musicians couldn’t follow him. The chart they had to play was
written: set and static.
Who knows what mental trick Art used to wrench himself
away from an improvising jazzman’s lifelong understanding and
to rise above it? But he did it. He dragged himself out of the
quicksand of that chart, ignoring it, at last, relying just on what
he heard inside. It sounded as if he was ripping his own guts out
in the studio. He was magnificent, and when he heard the take he
knew it. He loved it. And I still love to listen to it.
A friend recently talked about good black gospel
churches, how they sometimes have nurses, even ambulances
there for people who, through the preaching and singing, are
kayoed by the Spirit. Art could blast you just that way, and he
does it for a while, if you’re at all susceptible, when he plays
“The Prisoner” on Winter Moon.

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