Thursday, April 14, 2016

ART PEPPER: THE DISCOVERY SESSIONS

ART PEPPER: THE DISCOVERY SESSIONS


© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved




Albert Marx resigned as A&R vice president at Musicraft in the spring of 1948 when that label was undergoing reorganization. He moved to Los Angeles that summer and established Discovery Records, Hollywood, in the fall of 1948. A Hollywood column in the September 4, 1948, issue of Billboard magazine noted that “Marx leaves here September 5 to set up distributing and pressing facilities in New York. Dick Bock, vee-pee of new firm, will handle promotion, advertising and exploitation.” 

Bock expanded on his duties at Discovery in an interview for Metronome magazine in the April 1957 issue.

"I spent two and a half years with Discovery as shipping clerk, production manager, A&R man and about everything else. I learned a lot while at Discovery, most of it the hard way."

The “about everything else” that Bock casually mentions included learning all phases of record production: setting up recording sessions at Radio Recorders, Sound Stage Recorders, and RCA Victor Studios; working with mastering engineers for final preparation of masters and production stampers; working with pressing plants during actual record production; contact with graphic designers and artists for album cover art and liner notes; arranging for album jacket production and label manufacturing at printers and lithographers; and final assembly of finished products for storage at Discovery Records headquarters. 

Albert Marx did not authorize Dick Bock to negotiate AFM contracts for recording sessions and none of the contracts for jazz artists who recorded for Discovery have Bock’s signature. But Dick Bock was most likely present at all of the recording sessions and there is photographic evidence that he was present at the Dizzy Gillespie/Johnny Richards session. Dick Bock is in the second photo below shown on the left with Dizzy Gillespie in the middle and Johnny Richards on the right at the recording session. The eight tunes recorded at this session were released on four 78 rpm singles, a 78 rpm album (M-16 shown), four 45 rpm singles (available as a boxed set, FS-31), two 45 RPM EP albums, and a 10" LP. The 78 rpm album contained three 78 rpm discs.



Marx’s achievements as a record producer reveal an astute choice of jazz artists to record for Discovery. Many of his productions ignored conventional wisdom regarding sales potential and appeal. His first release by Phil Moore with a 52 piece orchestra is perhaps the best demonstration of his daring. Unfortunately it also demonstrates his shortcomings as a business man. The label never achieved financial success as several reports in Billboard magazine chronicled Marx’s attempts to stay afloat. Les Koenig stepped in briefly to assist but withdrew when his own operations at GTJ need his full attention. A reported sale of Discovery to Vernon Brown of New York fell through. Billboard reported that Harry Weber stepped in at the 11th hour and acquired the label. This move freed Marx of his debt obligations for Discovery and Weber (a Hollywood businessman) worked with his lawyer to meet with creditors to resolve debts. But Marx was still active in the background doing his best to keep Discovery solvent.

The next notice in Billboard regarding Discovery Records appeared in the January 19, 1952, edition.

“HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 12.—Discovery Records here threw in the towel this week following almost a year of stormy going, with Ray Boarman, general manager, announcing that F. F. Quittner, Los Angeles attorney, had been appointed to oversee liquidation of its tangible assets to satisfy creditors.”

Two additional notices in Billboard provide some clues regarding the course of events surrounding the dissolution of Discovery. A New York distributor, Jack Bergman - Tempo Distributors, who handled Discovery Records for his region visited the west coast at the end of February 1952 to visit manufacturers and vacation. Then in March another column, byline New York, noted that 150 Discovery Records masters were sold to Saul Boltin and Herb Silverman. The masters included sides by George Shearing, Red Norvo Trio, and Dizzy Gillespie. The column concluded that there were still 100 Discovery masters to be disposed of within the next few months.

The May 24, 1952, edition of Billboard announced that the new Discovery label had arrived.

“Jack Bergman, of Tempo Distributors, New York, has released his first sides on the new Discovery label. Bergman and two partners recently purchased the name and assets of the old Discovery label. First releases are by the Art Pepper group.”

The two partners were Saul Boltin and Herb Silverman. They had cherry-picked the Discovery masters with the greatest sales potential in March. Bergman bought the leftovers and the legal name to establish Discovery Records of New York, the new name for the label.

It appears that Albert Marx did not go to the expense of preserving multiple takes at a recording session. None of the sessions for Phil Moore, George Shearing, Ike Carpenter, Georgie Auld, Ben Pollack, Paul Smith, Martha Raye, Mary Ann McCall, and Dizzy Gillespie reveal alternate takes of the tunes recorded at their sessions. Marx was a product of the 78 rpm era when you saved the best take from a recording session for release as a single. What would you do with an extra take of the same tune, release another 78 single of the same title? Didn't happen.

This changed with the sessions for the Red Norvo Trio. There are alternates takes for the May 1950 Hollywood session, the October 1950 Chicago session, and the April 1951 Hollywood session which was the last session that Bock supervised while he was still employed by Marx at Discovery. Bock was not in a position to preserve all takes during the first recording session for Art Pepper, but he was on the second and third sessions.

Art Pepper struck out on his own with a quartet in January of 1952. They opened at the Surf Club on January 18, 1952.


Dick Bock wrote an enthusiastic review of the quartet that was published in the February 22, 1952, issue of Down Beat magazine.


The next issue of Down Beat published a photo of the group at the Surf Club.



During an April 1984 interview with Will Thornbury Dick Bock recalled that the new owner of Discovery, Jack Bergman, contacted him and stated that he wished to continue the recording program for the label. Bergman knew that Bock had handled recording sessions for Discovery and proposed that Bock record the new Art Pepper group that he had reviewed in Down Beat. Bock explained that he did not have a license to negotiate musician contracts with the AFM, but knew people in the industry who could faciliate a recording session. Bergman authorized Bock to make arrangements to record Art Pepper via Robert Scherman at Skylark Records. The agreement was to produce four sides, the AFM standard for a three hour session. Four sides, no alternates. Scherman agreed to finance the recording as a favor to Bock and was reimbursed by Bergman to cover his time and expense. Scherman was a thrifty producer and the arrangement to capture four master takes in a three hour session was the way he usually conducted his recording sessions.



Bergman instructed Bock to begin a new recording control numerical series starting with D6001. The first tune recorded, “Brown Gold,” resulted in a master take on the seventh version and received the designation D6001-7. The second tune recorded, “These Foolish Things,” was saved as a master take on the fourth version, D6002-4.


The third tune recorded, “Surf Ride,” received D6003-5, and the fourth tune, “Holiday Flight,” was saved on the fourth take, D6004-4.




Discovery Records of New York also released the new Art Pepper Quartet sides as 45 rpm singles plus a 45 EP with all four tunes.





Bergman’s gamble with Dick Bock and Art Pepper paid off. The Art Pepper Quartet releases received positive reviews from the critics and Bergman asked Bock to record an additional four tunes to fill out a 10” LP release. Bergman made arrangements with AFM to authorize Ray Boarman to sign contracts on behalf of Discovery Records of New York, and put his trust in Dick Bock to supervise the recording session. By this time Dick Bock was licensed by the AFM to engage musicians for hire on recording contracts, but his license was for his company, Pacific Jazz.

Art’s working group now comprised Russ Freeman on piano, Bob Whitlock on bass, and Bobby White on drums. Bock scheduled an evening session at Radio Recorders on October 8, 1952.






Bergman authorized Bock to preserve all viable takes of the four tunes to be recorded and advised Bock to assign D6058, D6059, D6060, and D6061 to the four tunes. The first tune, “Chili Pepper” (an Art Pepper original), yielded five keepers on the first five takes, D6058-1, D6058-2, D6058-3, D6058-4, and D6058-5. The fourth take, D6058-4, was selected as the master take and released on Discovery 171, a 78 rpm single. 

The second tune, another Pepper original titled “Suzy The Poodle” resulted in four keepers, D6059-1, D-6059-3, D6059-5, and D6059-6. The first take, D6059-1, was deemed the master and released on Discovery 170, a 78 rpm single.




The third tune recorded was the Tom Adair and Matt Dennis standard, “Everything Happens To Me.” It also resulted in five takes that were hard to judge which to designate the master, D6060-1, D6060-2. D6060-3, D6060-4, and D6060-6. The fourth take, D6060-4, was selected to back “Chili Pepper” on Discovery 171.

The fourth tune recorded was Lester Young’s “Tickle Toe.” Two takes were keepers, D6061-4 and D6061-9. D6061-4 was selected to back “Suzy The Poodle” on Discovery 170.

Bergman dispensed with adding the take number on the labels, but retained it in the wax run off where the matrix numbers included the take number.

The four master takes were selected to fill out a 10” LP release of the Art Pepper Quartet, his first release on LP as a leader, Discovery DL 3019.





The liner notes by Bob Schwaid mistakenly placed the debut of Art's quartet in 1951, but to his credit he did correctly identify Art's first sidemen who did not receive credit on the 10" LP label.

Dick Bock functioned as producer again for Art Pepper’s third recording session for Discovery. Art Pepper was playing the Tiffany Club in June of 1954 with a quintet that included Jack Montrose on tenor saxophone.


Jack Montrose, Art Pepper, and Tiffany owner Jack Tucker.


The contract on file at AFM does not have signatures, but most likely Ray Boarman signed again on behalf of Discovery Records of New York. Dick Bock, now in his third year as head of Pacific Jazz Records, was busy preparing an album featuring Clifford Brown with arrangements by Jack Montrose. The first Clifford Brown session was on August 12th at Capitol Studios on Melrose, and the second was at the same studio on September 8th. Bock supervised the Pepper/Montrose session at Radio Recorders on August 25th.

Stu Williamson, Dick Bock, and Zoot Sims, June 16, 1954.

Dick Bock's extracurricular activity outside of Pacific Jazz was not well known and he did not publicize his involvement in these recording sessions for other labels. Prior to this third session for Bergman, Bock supervised a Zoot Sims session for Bob Weinstock's New Jazz label on June 16, 1954. William Claxton and Ray Avery took photos at the recording session and Claxton's photo of Zoot Sims enjoying a smoke while listening to a playback was used for the cover of Zoot Sims In Hollywood, NJLP-1102.




Claxton was Art Director at Pacific Jazz and accompanied Bock to all of his recording sessions. He was present at Radio Recorders on August 25, 1952, and took several photos of the Art Pepper Quintet that day.





Larry Bunker, Claude Williamson, Jack Montrose, and Art Pepper.




Bergman gave Dick Bock another set of control numbers for the Art Pepper Quintet session, D6301, D6303, D6304, D6305, D6306, D6307, D6308, and D6309. There is no evidence that D6302 was a number assigned to a tune that was discarded. Todd Selbert's liner notes to Savoy Jazz SJL 1170 (a first time release of alternate takes) state that D6302 was a different treatment of "Nutmeg" but none of the takes were deemed releasable.

D6301 was assigned to “Nutmeg,” an Art Pepper original composition. Four takes were preserved, D6301-3, D6301-4, D6301-6, and D6301-7. D6301-3 was the master version used on the 10” LP release, DL 3023.

“Deep Purple” had a single take, D6303-1, that was used on the 10” release. No alternate versions.

“Cinnamon,” another Pepper original, yielded three takes that were preserved, D6304-2, D6304-3, and D6304-5. D6304-4, the shortest of the three takes was deemed the master and used on DL 3023.

“What’s New” also resulted in three takes that were keepers, D6305-1, D6305-2, and D6305-3. The third take, D6305-3, was the master used for the 10” LP.

“Thyme Time” similarly ended up with three viable takes, D6306-1, D6306-2, and D6306-3. The second take, D6306-2, was judged to be the master take.

Art Pepper’s “Straight Life” also yielded three keepers, D6307-1, D6307-2, and D6307-3. Once again the second take won out and was used as the master take.

The fourth and final “spice” tune for the album, “Art’s Oregano,” had at least five takes as D6308-1, D6308-2, and D6308-5 survive. The last take, D6308-5, was selected as the master take.

Two takes survive of the last tune performed at the session, “The Way You Look Tonight.” The fifth take, D6309-5, was deemed the master take. The second take, D6309-2, is the only surviving alternate take.

The Art Pepper Quintet sides appeared on DL 3023 only. There were no 78 or 45 rpm releases of these tunes.








The labels do not credit Paul Vallerina, the drummer present on the first three hour session where it became painfully evident that he was not up to the task of driving the quintet. 

Monty Budwig is the correct spelling for the bassist on this session.

Larry Bunker was able to come to the rescue and arrived in time to finish the last four tunes recorded that afternoon. Vallerina's sole claim to fame was an album for Robert Scherman's Skylark label, Bewitched, that featured Vallerina as vocalist backed by a five piece quintet.

When Jack Bergman entered the record producer arena in 1952, the 78, 45, and 33 rpm standard was undergoing change. Billboard headlines frequently forecast the demise of the 78 rpm single, and the transition of 10" LP to the 12" LP format was still a few years away. Bergman continued with 10" LP releases and did a recording session in New York with Eddie Bert that was one of the last domestic sessions for Discovery Records of New York. A brief flirtation with European masters from Sweden, Germany, England, and France were released in a 10" LP series using a DL 2000 numerical series. Bergman sold the Discovery label to Herman Lubinsky of Savoy-Regent Records in 1956. The Art Pepper Discovery sessions were repackaged on Savoy Records. These releases will be examined in the next installment of Jazz Research.

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