- Category : Entertain-Music-Instrumentalist
- Type : PE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (21,26,28,35,58)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Planning 3
American musician playing a jazz alto tenor saxophone. He was the star saxophone player with Stan Kenton's orchestra in the '40s. His career faltered when he went too far into drug abuse, but he turned it around and rebuilt his reputation.
Art Pepper’s phenomenal musical gifts developed early. From the time he took up the saxophone at the age of 12, he proved such a natural talent that soon he was jamming around L.A. with musicians like Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon. He served in the military from 1944-46 and then had some of his happiest days when he played lead alto with Stan Kenton from 1947-52. But after this meteoric rise, his demons took over. He was an addict, thief, alcoholic, womanizer and wild man.
The 1950s found Pepper recording frequently both as a leader and a sideman resulting in at least two classics ("Plays Modern Jazz Classics" and "Meets the Rhythm Section"). He spent two periods in jail due to drug offenses during 1953-56. Pepper was in top form during his recordings for Contemporary label of 1957-60 but then his career was sidetracked with long prison sentences during the 1960s. In his occasional gigs between jail terms, he adopted a harder tone influenced by John Coltrane that disturbed some of his longtime followers. He recorded with Buddy Rich in 1968, then became seriously ill, leading to a rehab at Synanon from 1969-71.
Pepper began his serious comeback in 1975 and with the help of his wife, Laurie, he not only returned to his former level but topped himself. He played with startling emotional intensity. Occasionally he showed his versatility by playing clarinet. His recordings from that period for Contemporary and Galaxy rank with the greatest work of his career. Pepper's autobiography "Straight Life" is a brutally honest book that details his sometimes-horrifying life.
When Art Pepper died on 6/15/1982 in Panorama City, California of natural causes he had attained his goal of becoming one of the world's great altoists.