Monday Distraction 8.30.10: Art Pepper

In the past few months I’ve had this little “Distraction” thing on Fridays, and I got to thinking about it, and who really needs a “Distraction” on Friday?  The weekend is enough of a distraction.  More folks need more of a distraction on Monday.

Yeah, it takes me a while to figure these simple things out.

And here’s another thing I can’t figure out, but I don’t know if this one is so simple.  I had a discussion with some folks the other day about the alto sax player Art Pepper, his autobiography Straight Life, and the fact that he just (insert obscene word for emphasis here) swings.

So one thing led to another, which led, inexorably, to the Internet, and I found some information, etc., about Mr. Pepper.  In particular I found out that Straight Life is being turned into a movie, but that the completion and distribution of the film is a bit hard to track down.

Readers of the autobiography may remember that he ends up with a woman named Laurie, who pretty much saves his bedraggled ass while saving her own.  Well, Laurie Pepper has evidently been in the process of creating a film based on Straight Life for a very, very long time.  And that film isn’t yet done.  But several scenes are done, and they are compiled at this website.  The little scenes show much promise, but I don’t see a finished product yet.  I don’t know if that should be seen as a bad thing.  In fact, it seems rather appropriate considering the circumstances.

Here are some other clips from the same “Straight Life” website.

Meanwhile, I’ve been rummaging around the ‘Net trying to find Pepper playing live, especially back in the old B&W days with skinny ties.  There’s not much out there, but I did find this…

I absolutely love this clip, but I have no true idea of any details regarding this date.  I have an email into the clip’s owner, Mr. Mendes, and maybe he’ll get back to me.  While waiting for that, I did find this little tidbit here:

Shortly after Pepper’s release from San Quentin, he appeared on Ralph Gleason’s Jazz Casual TV show in San Francisco in May 1964. The two tracks here are D Section and Groupin’. The band is Pepper on alto sax, Frank Strazzeri on piano, Hersh Hamel on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums…

Sometimes the Internet research is as much of a pleasant distraction as the clip.  I don’t know if that’s true here, but tracking down stuff like this is a trip, and a great way to avoid grading papers on a Sunday night. Maybe Frank Strazzeri is the piano player…and maybe not.

Regardless of its actual origin details, the clip is about 10 minutes of sublime, I can handle Monday or any day of the week, bliss, if you ask me, from the obscure drumming of the intro to the stretching out squawks of the, I guess, newly freed Mr. Pepper.

Enjoy your Monday everyone.  Bonus points for anyone who can truly confirm the players, date, tune, show, etc.


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