Pete Recommends…Art Pepper – The Omega Sessions

Art Pepper

The Omega Sessions

[Fresh Sounds CD 378]

An Apology. My recommendations are usually sessions which I have enjoyed for many years. This is a new, and very special addition to my collection. In July, at a U3A meeting, one of my friends played a selection from Art’s recordings. Some were familiar but all were of an amazing quality. I have admired Art’s playing since the 1950s, but this session confirmed my opinion that he is one of the very greatest improvisers to play our music.

One track was very special – a version of Body And Soul. The famous recording by Coleman Hawkins in 1939 is justly admired by the critics; Art’s recording offers a different feeling and is of almost equal quality. It is enhanced by 16 wonderful bars from Carl Perkins.

I decided to buy the full session which includes this title on CD. It was originally recorded on stereo tape in April 1957 and is now available on CD from Fresh Sounds. The sound quality is excellent and the creative level of the playing amazing. From a powerful version of Bud Powell’s tune Webb City to a relaxed version of Begin the Beguine, the quartet combines imagination with rhythmic intensity. Driven with controlled power by Chuck Flores on one of his best recorded performances, Art and Carl produce a breath-taking flow of ideas and interact perfectly. I would particularly recommend their solos on Without A Song, but there are no dud tracks here. This is one of those great sessions which capture our music at its very best.

Pete Batten

Art Pepper, alto sax; Carl Perkins, piano; Bobby Tucker, bass; Chuck Flores, drums.