Alto saxophone legend Art Pepper, who was born in Covina, CA in 1925 and died in Los Angeles in 1982, placed second to only Charlie Parker in Downbeat magazine's Readers Poll in 1952. Considered one of the pioneers of West Coast jazz, Pepper began his career on L.A.'s Central Avenue, a hotbed of black music, blues, and swing and made his name in Stan Kenton's Big Band.
Pepper also collaborated with Hoagy Carmichael, Art Farmer, Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, and Johnny Griffin and led and recorded with his own ensembles. His career was repeatedly interrupted by prison stints related to his heroin addiction, but he embarked on comebacks each time, his superior level of musicianship never compromised.
The 1956 Savoy Records date Surf Ride finds Pepper in top form working in multiple configurations with the likes of pianists Russ Freeman and Hampton Hawes and tenor saxophonist Jack Montrose. The luminous 12-track set is largely comprised of early Pepper originals ("Susie the Poodle," "Surf Ride," "Straight Life") along with a few well chosen standards ("Tickle Toe," "The Way You Look Tonight,") thrown in for good measure.
Art Pepper (alto saxophone)
Jack Montrose (tenor saxophone)
Claude Williamson / Hampton Hawes / Russ Freeman (piano)
Bob Whitlock / Joe Mondragon / Monte Budwig (double bass)
Bobby White / Larry Bunker (drums)