Jim Pepper: Witchi-Tai-To




Jim Pepper (tenor sax)


The Path (Enja 5087)

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Jim Pepper (tenor sax), Kirk Lightsey (piano).

Composed by Jim Pepper


Recorded: New York, March 3 and 4, 1988


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

“Makes me feel glad that I’m not dead,” Pepper sings on this performance of his best known work. But four years later, Pepper would be dead, at age forty. He never achieved the fame in his lifetime that he richly deserved – but more honors and accolades have come his way posthumously. I have a hunch that his reputation will only continue to grow with the passing years, and that he will eventually be acknowledged as one of the jazz greats of his generation. “Witchi-Tai-To,” inspired by chants he heard his grandfather sing, would become the most unlikely of jazz standards, covered by everybody from Oregon to the pop duo Brewer & Shipley (of “One Toke Over the Line” fame). But nobody has performed it with the vigor and poignancy of Pepper himself, who here showcases it in a duet with pianist Kirk Lightsey.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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