By the spring of 1981 Art Pepper was riding what would be the last creative wave of his checkered career before dying of a stroke a year and a half later. Incarcerated several times stemming from his heroin addiction, he enjoyed a very prolific period through the late-1970s and the turn of the decade, and in April 1981 55 year-old Pepper played a series of shows at New York’s iconic jazz club Fat Tuesday’s. Backed by pianist Milcho Leviev, bassist Georde Mraz, and drummer Al Foster, Pepper played five shows. An unreleased recording has been unearthed, remastered, and gorgeously packed into the CD/digital release Art Pepper Live at Fat Tuesday’s, which will be released 30 October on Elemental Music.
One track, an epic 11-minute rendition of Pepper’s jazz/funk composition “Red Car”, can be heard below. According to information provided by Elemental, “Art decided he wanted a new car, and Les Koenig (owner of Art’s record label Contemporary Records) advanced him the money for a bright red 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham, and likely signed for it. The car was so red, it was as red as a car could be. Art immediately wrote a tune about it, inspired by soulful tunes he liked to play like ‘Watermelon Man’, and it jogs and rolls along just like a funky red car. [His widow] Laurie Pepper says, ‘Art was so happy, until he almost totaled it and himself!’”