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Pepper Adams: Julian

Recorded in 1975 at a Munich nightclub, Adams is accompanied by two of his Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra bandmates: pianist Walter Norris and bassist Georg Mraz, with Makaya Ntshoko capably filling the drummer’s chair. The one-plus set’s worth of music includes the title track, a moving ballad written by Adams and Mraz in honor of Cannonball Adderley, who’d died just five days earlier, and two other Adams compositions-“Jirge,” which the baritone saxophonist introduces by calling it “the most difficult single piece of music we have to work with” and the minor key “Ad Astra.”

That this was a special night for Adams-who is in fine fettle-is indicated by the choice of material (Vincent Youmans’ “Time on My Hands” is the only standard) which is rounded out by a blazing “Spacemaker” (by Norris) and three Thad Jones tunes-the tricky unison-themed “Three and One,” the very peppy “Tis” (at 2:54, the shortest track), and the elegant “Lady Luck,” played by Adams and Mraz. The caliber of musicianship and the intricately worked-out tunes raise this performance far above a routine club gig.

Originally Published