The first time I heard anything about Art Pepper was in college. A professor was telling stories of Art Pepper’s life; the multiple wives, the jail time, and of course, the music. My professor spoke fondly of the album Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section. He mentioned how it was the rhythm section for Miles Davis and how well Art Pepper played as the lead. The title stayed stuck in my mind and I purchased it the first chance I got. Now several years later, I’ve decided to revisit the album and give it a full review.
The album is fairly short being nine tunes long and clocking in at 43 minutes. The opening track “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” Starts with a Red Garland piano intro and Pepper takes care of the melody from there. This is a classic jazz album and this is a classic jazz quartet. With such an experienced rhythm section Pepper is really able to express himself and plays the head eloquently. His solo is inspired and blends beautifully with the head. Garland solos next followed by bassists Paul Chambers. The band then proceeds to trade fours before going back into the melody. A classic tune and a fantastic start to the album. There are a couple of other tunes I’d like to highlight from this album, “Waltz Me Blues” is one of my personal favorites. I especially like the piano line that accompanies Pepper. It’s a nice texture that I rarely hear during a solo. “Straight Life” swings so hard! Fast tempos, burning solos, can’t recommend it enough. “Tin Tin Deo” is a fantastic Latin tune and I love Garland’s solo on it.
If you’re in the mood for some classic jazz music in a combo setting this album should suffice. I really don’t have many complaints. Nice variety between tunes, great solos, excellent selection of standards. My only complaint is with audio quality. I have the album on CD and listened to it on Apple Music. The bass lines and even bass solos felt a bit muddy to me. I’ll have to check and see if there is a remastering that solves this issue. Other than that I highly recommend this album.