Recording Date: Aug 19,20, 1983
The great baritonist Pepper Adams is teamed up with the adventurous trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and veteran pianist Hank Jones for this live quintet date. Wheeler, although often associated with the avant-garde, has never had any difficulty playing changes and his strong style clearly inspired Adams. Together they perform three of the baritonist's originals, Thad Jones "Tis," Wheeler's "Old Ballad," and the standard "Alone Together."
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
As a long time admirer of the late Pepper Adams, I was extremely happy when I was asked by Mark Feldman, head of Reservoir Music, to write these notes.
My first meeting with Pepper goes back more than 20 years, to a cold, snowy, blustery evening in Montreal. It was at The Windsor Penthouse, I believe. I had, with several other aspiring young musicians, gone to hear Pepper perform with a good local rhythm section.
The place was almost deserted-one or two other tables-and Pepper proceeded to play as if he were facing a full house at Carnegie Hall. After the set, which left us open-mouthed and wide-eyed, Pepper came over to our table, introduced himself and thanked us for braving the inclement weather and supporting the music.
After this first meeting, it seemed over the years, I would keep running into Pepper at odd times and places. Once, while playing an outdoor noon-hour concert in downtown Toronto, I looked up, and here was Pepper- just passing through town! We kept in touch, and when I moved to New York in the early eighties, one of my first calls was from Pepper. Eventually, we did the album EXHILARATION together (soon to be reissued on Reservoir).
My first meeting with Kenny Wheeler dates to a Monday in 1980 in Toronto, when I received a call from the great Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert, asking if I could replace him that night at the Bourbon Street Club with Kenny Wheeler. In addition to my enjoyment of meeting Kenny and playing his challenging and interesting music, the occasion was made momentous by the fact that, between sets that nights, I was introduced to the woman who was to become my wife.
I have encountered and worked with Kenny several times since, and continue to be impressed by this modest, unassuming man, his brilliant ideas and his ability to fit into almost any situation and still retain a strong musical personality. This new Reservoir CD documents a fortuitous meeting of Pepper and Kenny at Fat Tuesday's during the summer of 1983. The addition of Hank Jones, Clint Houston, and Louis Hayes made the cast and setting complete for CONJURATION.
The title tune is an Adams original, taken at a comfortable medium tempo. The piece is a 32-bar composition with a structure similar to But Not For Me. Everyone but Louis Hayes solos on this opener.
Next comes Alone Together. After an introduction voiced by the two horns, they take turns on the melody with obligatos. Hank Jones' first solo reminds us what a wonderful pianist he is. Pepper's got the next one, and, typically, tears it up, followed by Kenny's statement, lyrical, and full of surprises. Half a chorus by Clint Houston, and the horns take it out with an arrangement by Pepper.
Diabolique II was originally titled Etude Diabolique, and devilish it is! An extremely tricky (in fact, downright difficult) Adams' composition on I Got Rhythm, it is taken "up." The tempo and the complexity of the line present no problems to players of this calibre.
Up next is one of several surprises which makes one appreciate the longer playing time of the compact disc. Previously unreleased, Claudette's Way is Pepper's dedication to his wife. Although he had recorded it before with a quartet, the bittersweet line benefits from the two-horn voicing and Kenny's interesting choice of notes in his solo.
A second family portrait follows with Dylan's Delight, a happy, boppish swinger, written for Pepper's stepson. This track is also previously unreleased. Pepper, Kenny, Hank, and Louis Hayes all have a ball with this one.
Dr. Deep was described by Lee Jeske in the original LP notes as a "graceful, lovely piece," and it is certainly that. It is a tribute to a Swedish psychiatrist.
Kenny Wheeler is featured on his own composition Old Ballad. He trades melody statements with Pepper before they state the theme in unison. Kenny, Pepper, and Hank solo on the poignant theme.
From the pen of Thad Jones, a most unique and underrated composer, comes Quittin' Time, the third previously unissued piece; and this alone is worth the price of admission! A down-tempo lope, with hints of the blues, it features rhythm section breaks which continue through the solo patterns. Check out Hank Jones' solo, with its nod to Erroll Garner.
The closer is Dobbin, written for Len Dobbin, Montreal jazzwriter, radio personality, and long-time friend of Pepper's (and mine). As Len tells it, he and Pepper were hanging out after a festival gig one night, and Pepper asked him if he liked the new piece. When his reply was affirmative, Pepper said, "It's yours." As Len puts it, "A lot of people have tunes named after them, but very few have a choice in the matter."
After everyone has his say on this minor key cooker, there is a direct segue into Pepper's set-closing theme, Thad Jones' blues, Tis.
This compact disc is called CONJURATION which the dictionary defines as "an act of magic." The listener will find many acts of magic here, all of them pleasurable, and a welcome addition to the legacy of recorded musical magic left to us by Pepper Adams.
- Peter Leitch (New York, October, 1989)