Wednesday, May 18, 2016




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

The Art Pepper Discovery sessions experienced a rebirth when Herman Lubinsky acquired all of the Discovery masters from Jack Bergman and his partners. A column in the December 22, 1956, issue of The Billboard announced the transfer.

"The Savoy Record company was founded late in 1942 in Newark, New Jersey, by Herman Lubinsky; among the label's first issues were items recorded in 1939 by the Savoy Dictators. These inaugurated a substantial catalogue of jazz which made Savoy one of the most important independent labels of the 1940s. From 1945 to 1952 artists and repertory were directed by Teddy Reig, who was responsible for introducing to the label, despite Lubinsky's initial doubts, several musicians of the emerging bop school. Savoy organized sessions by Charlie Parker (1945, 1947-8), Dexter Gordon and Fats Navarro (both 1946-7), J. J. Johnson (1946-7, 1949), and Serge Chaloff and Miles Davis (both 1947), the results of which are now among the most highly prized recordings of the style. Nevertheless the most successful parts of the catalogue were recordings of swing, and of jazz with a strong beat and blues feeling that later came to be categorized as rhythm-and-blues. An office was opened on the West Coast in 1948; in charge of artists and repertory was Ralph Bass, who was responsible for bringing Erroll Garner to the label. 

Savoy began purchasing other enterprises in 1948. The first of these was Fred Mendelsohn's label Regent; those of particular jazz interest were National, Bop, and Discovery, all of which had extensive jazz catalogues. In addition the company leased a large amount of important jazz from small organizations, including traditional material by Mutt Carey and Punch Miller first issued by Century, and Fletcher Henderson's recordings for Crown. Savoy also reissued the catalogue of the Jewell label, best known for its recordings by Boyd Raeburn of 1945-6.

Reig's successor, Lee Magid, altered the emphasis of the company's recording policy, concentrating on more commercially oriented types of Afro-American music, but jazz remained important under the supervision of Ozzie Cadena, who controlled artists and repertory from 1954 to 1959. Cadena instigated reissues on LP of major recordings of the 1940s, and also organized important bop sessions by Kenny Clarke (1954-6), Cannonball Adderley (1955), and Yusef Lateef (1957, 1959)."

© New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 1994, St. Martins Press, New York

It was fortuitous that the Art Pepper sessions arrived at Savoy during Ozzie Cadena's tenure as director of A&R at Discovery. Cadena recognized Pepper's artistic achievements captured by Discovery during its brief history and gave these recordings new life on Savoy. The master tapes were remastered by Rudy Van Gelder and advances in pressing technology gave these sessions sonic enhancements that were not previously possible.

The sixteen master recordings that had previously been released on two Discovery 10" LPs had to be spread over two 12" LPs, one on Savoy, Surf Ride, MG 12089, and the remaining tracks on a Regent LP, Art Pepper / Sonny Redd, MG 6069.

Ozzie Cadena selected the Art Pepper quartet sessions for side A, three tracks from the original March 3, 1952, session, with Hampton Hawes, Joe Mondragon, and Larry Bunker: 

“Brown Gold” D6001-7
“Holiday Flight” D6004-4
“Surf Ride” D6003-5

Three tracks from the October 8, 1952, session with Russ Freeman, Bob Whitlock, and Bobby White:

“Tickle Toe” D6061-4
“Chili Pepper” D6058-4
“Suzy The Poodle” D6059-1

Side B featured six tracks from the Art Pepper /Jack Montrose quintet session:

“Straight Life” D6307-2
“The Way You Look Tonight” D6309-5
“Cinnamon” D6304-4
“Nutmeg” D6301-3
“Thyme Time” D6306-2
“Art’s Oregano” D6308-5

The remainder of the Art Pepper sessions were paired with tracks from a Sonny Redd session and released on Lubinsky's Regent label. This album was reissued as Two Altos - Art Pepper / Sonny Redd on Savoy 12215.

The first track on side A of Regent MG 6069 was from the quintet session of August 25, 1954:

“Deep Purple” D6303-1

The third track on side A was from the quartet session of October 8, 1952:

“Everything Happens To Me” D6060-4

Side B of Regent MG 6069 reissued the remaining two tracks from the sixteen Discovery masters, track two from the March 4, 1952, quartet session:

“These Foolish Things” D6002-4

Track three was from the quintet session:

“What’s New” D6305-3

The Savoy and Regent reissues did not single out the quintet sessions with with Paul Vallerina and Larry Bunker, listing Larry Bunker on drums for all eight tunes. Monty Budwig continued to be listed as Monte Budwig.

Ozzie Cadena included Art Pepper Discovery sessions on two other anthologies released on the Savoy label, The Many Faces of the Blues, Savoy MG 12125, and The Jazz Hour, MG 12126.

The Many Faces of the Blues, Savoy MG 12125, featured “Surf Ride” D6003-5.

The Jazz Hour, MG 12126, featured Art Pepper's signature tune, “Straight Life” D6307-2.

These reissues on Savoy shared a fate similar to the original Art Pepper Discovery releases, changing times and shifts in the jazz marketplace led to their becoming unavailable to jazz fans.

The original Art Pepper Discovery sessions experienced a third rebirth when Savoy was acquired by Arista in the 1970s. This final vinyl chapter will be covered in the next installment.

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