Art Pepper : The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s 1980

Pure Pleasure indeed (analogue & musical)

My heart jumped in joy when The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s 1980 7 lp vinyl set arrived from Pure Pleasure. Sadly I had to wait few hours before my daily schedule allowed me to take the taste of this precious package. 

Some enjoy old wine, cigars etc. For me this is an injection of a true sense gratification and thanks God for no side effects :). Called it conditional state or whatever. It's music! All right, in this case not only that. This set conveys unforgettably pleasant emotional and musical event. 

I can hardly recall experiencing anything similar in quite some time. Under review collection of Art Pepper playing at Ronnie Scott's is simply a treasure island. There are no words describing the atmosphere and sound of this recording. If you know by heart the feeling of the small jazz club, then this set will transform you directly into such moment. It's no wonder why Pepper's fans and audiophiles almost fanatically searched for previous two LP's, but now we got all the unreleased material that Art's wife rediscovered.  It's simply music and as good as it gets. Raw, unedited and a true mastery.

Art Pepper simply tears his heart out and make it so easy to embrace, that is palatable not only to the audience in this sessions, but to any music lover. He's bold humbleness and love for music grabs you at once and pull you into his intimate world. It's a voyage into Art's rich heritage and musical landscape.

At the end of the sessions he thanks everyone, expressing his love for all that came and helped making this sessions so special. This was unmistakable give and take happening. It feels that only people who care deeply enough for Art music and passion took their time off and participate as important part of this reciprocation. 

Art playing was morphing from tender like, bluesy, virtuosi, to thunder like crescendos. I'm having hard to describe it, you simply need to feel the exchange of musical energy. A poetry in motion through the hands of master of musical craftsmanship. 

It takes a life long hard dealings with world to play something so compelling and intimate like Blues Record. Art had his share of thorn like passages in his life line and one can feel it in every note. A true humbling  
experience. Hearing him transferring notes in a true blue via saxophone opens an emotional hazard. 

There are more than dozen saxophone jazz legends, but if you need to point out few instantly, Coltrane, Rollins and Pepper are always on the short list. Art's  playing is more black then white like and I mean it in a good way :). 

I grew along all the digital happenings and you can still call me a geek (now where is my first Sinclar ZX-81). Then again, there is nothing that addresses my inner peace and lifelike flow in a way that this kind of transparent analogue recordings do. SACD came far (sometimes too far ;), digital high-res copies of studio masters are at the pinnacle of current digitalis, yet nothing came close to the analogue masters and for rest of us mortals,  fine vinyl pressings of those. I know that there is no such thing as a complete pure silent vinyl, but I can live with this. There was great presentation in Milano High-end. In almost chronological way an veteran recording engineer showed the audio sound quality presentation from mp3, music servers, dedicated audio players, vinyl to the master tape. No body needs further elaboration once hearing this. Period! I would surely love to obtain some of the master tapes, but in meanwhile I don't mind occasional pops and clicks when everything else reminds me so much on the live event itself.

To be honest, with recordings like The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s 1980 I can appreciate (and miss) some of the ultra high priced high-end gear. Even those few audible percent's made all the sense with material like this and urge you to upgrade. Needed? No, but wanted...

In the age of digital fast forwarding, this is not only a glorious statement, an historical event, but a tribute to the music itself. Thanks God there are still labels like Pure Pleasure Records and few others, that carry the message of recording, performing and audio art. The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s 1980 transcend the genre and time. It's a Kubrick's like black monument-um, that was carved in that time to stay. 

Thanks to Tony from Pure Pleasure for providing this set for review.

These were then skillfully edited & mastered by Ray Staff to produce seven vinyl albums containing the original eight tracks from the two Mole LPs & adding an extra seventeen performances never previously available. 

Alun Morgan Personnel : 

Art Pepper, alto saxophone and clarinet/ Milcho Leviev, piano/Tony Dumas, bass/Carl Burnett, drums 

Including seventeen performances previously unavailable along with all the tracks on the two Mole Jazz albums BLUES FOR THE FISHERMAN and TRUE BLUES. TECHNICAL NOTE: 


This recording was made using multi-microphones in a straight stereo mix without any noise reduction system, limiting, compression or equalization on either the location or on the transfer of the original master tapes to the lacquers from which the final pressings are made.

Tracklisting 27th June 1980

– 1st Set Record 1 Side A Side B 1. Blanch The Cat 1. Make A List Make A Wish 2. Ophelia 2. Sad A Little Bit Record 2 Side C Side D 1. Ornithology 1. Arthur’s Blues 2. Red Car 27th June 1980 – 2nd Set Record 3 Side E Side F 1. Untitled #34 1. Rhythm-A-Ning 2. Song For Richard 2. Rita-San Record 4 Side G Side H 1. What’s New 28th June 1980 – 1st Set 2. I’ll Remember April 1. True Blues 2. Ophelia Record 5 Side I Side J 1. Make A List Make A Wish 1. Red Car 2. Stardust Record 6 Side K Side L 1. Straight Life 1. The Trip 28th June 1980 – 2nd Set 2. I’ll Remember April 2. Y.I. Blues Record 7 Side M Side N 1. Goodbye 1. Blues For The Fisherman 2. In A Mellow Tone 

Format: 7xLP box set including 16 page booklet with new notes by Alun Morgan and the four interviews with Art Pepper by Les Tomkins from 1979, 1980 & 1981 

Recorded by Tri-Arts Associates Limited for TAA/Mole Record Productions on 27/28th June 1980 

Recording engineers: Peter Bould, Peter Ball & Graham Ward. Assisted by Christopher Bould & Rainer Schneider. Executive Producers - Ed Dipple, Pete Fincham & Graham Griffiths.

Matej Isak: text
Mono & Stereo high-end audio magazine
March 2011, All rights reserved