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Larry Kart

Art Pepper/Sonny Stitt

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Had a feeling about this one and am now sampling the two dates -- one with Lou Levy, Chuck Domanico, and Carl Burnett, the other recorded on the following two days (July 30 and 31, 1978) with Russ Freeman, John Heard, and Burnett. In the notes Laurie Pepper favors the latter rhythm section, as do I, but the first rhythm section is fine too, just has a different flavor, mostly thanks to Levy's light-bright-and-skating articulation and time feel versus Freeman's darker, weightier comping and solo work. Laurie says that Freeman was more to Art's taste, but the quality of Art's playing on the first date was quite high -- as was Art himself according to Laurie (beforehand a "fan" had slipped Art a bunch of pills of an unknown sort). Both Stitt and Pepper are in fine form, and those expecting a  highly competitive near bloodbath will be disappointed. Art's approach  -- more expressive gestures, more venturesome that Stitt-- only serves to inspire the latter, whose ready responsiveness has a similar effect on Art. The overall mood strikes me as  fresh, warm, and genial, with any number of inspired moments from both men.

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This prompted me to re-listen to this for the first time in a long while, first time in a while for either Pepper or Stitt actually.  And I'm quite enjoying it - the first session may have been personally unpleasant, esp'ly for Laurie, but everyone plays just fine, with just enough combativeness to keep it interesting.  They must've fundamentally dug each other's playing.  I don't think I've ever heard Stitt even get close to the thing they do in places here where the trading licks starts to slide over into the kind of simultaneous improvised counterpoint that Konitz & Marsh were the masters of (and which Art played with each of those two separately)(see/hear the end of How High the Moon).  The rhythm section may not be ideal, but they ain't bad.  Thanks for the prod.

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On the 2nd session now, the two long cuts, at least, are a step up. But mixing the two might've produced the best possible album(s)?

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I have had this Japanese CD for a long time. Was not aware that there was another Stitt / Pepper session with a different rhythm section.

Thought it was interesting to hear both Stitt and Pepper playing tenor on "Lester Leaps In".

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Sorry, I just discovered that I actually have the Stitt/Pepper sessions with both rhythm sections on my Atlas box set.

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