Art Pepper: You Go To My Head


You Go To My Head


Art Pepper (alto sax)


Saturday Night at the Village Vanguard (Contemporary C 7644)

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Art Pepper (alto sax), George Cables (piano), George Mraz (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Composed by J. Fred Coots


Recorded: Village Vanguard, New York City, July 29, 1977


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Art Pepper's 1977 run at the Village Vanguard in New York was a career high point for the brilliant yet troubled (and oft-incarcerated) altoist. The gig put him in the company of one of his best rhythm sections—pianist George Cables, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Elvin Jones—and resulted in some of the most passionate, inspired playing of his career. Pepper has his way with "You Go To My Head," imbuing the ballad with the raw, almost desperate intensity that defined the work of his final years. The rhythm section's suavity contrasts with Pepper's compulsive style; his quick, double-time eruptions bespeak a welter of emotion that's always on the very edge of breaching Pepper's tenuous self-control. Indeed, there's a primal aspect to his playing that's utterly instinctual, even beyond what's common in the playing of other great improvisers. As good as Pepper was in the '50s, he was even better here, in the final phase of his not so straight life.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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