JOY ROAD: SAMPLER offers 11 highlight tracks from THE COMPLETE WORKS OF PEPPER ADAMS, a 5 volume set, 51 Track Digital Box Set from Motéma Music. There will be many more Jazz For Wine Lovers’ releases and events so be sure to sign up to our mailing list and don’t miss out.
How do you bring attention to the compositional genius of a jazz artist, who, though internationally beloved by colleagues as one of the greatest baritone saxophonists to ever live, has been marginalized by history books and ignored as a composer? That, in sum, presents the quixotic challenge taken on by Gary Carner with his digital box set, JOY ROAD: The Complete Works of Pepper Adams (Volumes 1-5), released September 11 from Motéma Music, and his exhaustively researched book, Pepper Adams’ Joy Road: An Annotated Discography, out simultaneously from Scarecrow Press.
In connection with these two grand undertakings, Motéma will also release two physical CDs: a stand-alone version of Volume 5, I Carry Your Heart: Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams, singled out because it documents the first-ever versions of Adams’ music to be paired with lyrics; and the JOY ROAD SAMPLER, a CD of highlights from the digital box set that shall be made available for sale in stores and online.
Via Carner’s new literary and musical JOY ROAD offerings, the world will get a fresh and unbridled take on this musical giant. Pepper Adams (1930-1986) “was loved by everyone in the industry,” says Carner, a noted jazz historian, as well as the owner of the gourmet wine brokerage, Sommelier Direct, LLC. “The fact that he allowed me into his confidence back in the 1980’s,” says Carner, “opened my entire life, my entire world into the jazz community.” After meeting in 1984, the two became close friends, with Carner doing extensive interviews to help Adams write his autobiography. Sadly, in 1986, Adams was cut down in his prime by cancer. In the wake of his loss, Carner’s literary intentions were forced to take a turn, resulting in the annotated discography eventually released by Scarecrow this August, as well as a full-length biography that is still in the works.
“Days before Adams died,” Carner explains, “pianist Tommy Flanagan, Pepper’s closest friend, was by his bedside. He later told me that Pepper weakly motioned toward my unfinished manuscript on the nightstand, as if to say ‘please make sure my legacy gets out there.’ When I heard that story,” Carner continues, “I knew I had to finish this work. The guy was an absolute genius as a musician, as a stylist, and as a composer… incredible! I needed to let the world know about those three things, especially the compositions.”
Now, 28 years after meeting Adams, Carner’s labor of love is complete. But what about the amazing Pepper compositions that Carner discovered along the way, mostly on out-of-print discs? The only way to introduce the world to all 43 tunes as a collection would be to produce contemporary recordings of the Adams songbook — a passionate undertaking, to say the least.
Carner chose to highlight the versatility of Adams’ compositions by placing the music in different settings. He engaged Chicago pianist Jeremy Kahn to record Volume 1 in a trio format. Next, Carner tapped the fine Atlanta-based pianist Kevin Bales to assemble a quartet for Volume 2 with guitarist Barry Greene featured. New York based baritone sax man, Frank Basile, presides over a sextet for Volume 3; and for Volume 4, Carner brought Kahn back with his trio and special guest, Gary Smulyan, who is Adams’ chief acolyte and was just voted Baritone Saxophonist of the Year for 2012 by the Jazz Journalists Association.
With Volumes 1-4, the 43-composition oeuvre was complete, but Carner had one more mission to fulfill. He had heard of Pepper’s unfulfilled wish to have lyrics set to his seven ballads. So, for the vital fifth volume, Carner engaged poet Barry Wallenstein (one of his literary mentors) to pen original lyrics. Award-winning vocalist Alexis Cole (also a Motéma artist), performs on this session, arranged and led by Jeremy Kahn, with both Eric Alexander and Pat LaBarbera featured on tenor saxes.
The fifth volume completes Carner’s massive tribute on a highly original note. Resetting Adams’ seven ballads in different tempos and styles, and pairing them with Wallenstein’s richly literary lyrics, serves as an especially fitting tribute to the creative, witty, well-read jazz legend who had named many of his compositions after famous literary works, such as “Lovers of Their Time”. The songs also add seven luscious new additions to the vocal jazz canon.
Carner’s historically detailed liner notes provide important career facts about the bari giant, who played with virtually every major jazz legend. There are also amusing anecdotes about the genesis of each song in the collection. The JOY ROAD SAMPLER includes an abridged version of the notes from the Complete Works set.
To launch his new book and music offerings,
Carner has collaborated with Motéma to co-opt his regularly scheduled Sommelier Direct fall wine sales route, and turn it into a 30-city JOY ROAD release tour, in which he will preside over book and CD signings; emcee live music performances of Pepper’s music; do radio publicity stops; and give college lectures… with wine tastings all along the way!
Live music highlights on the tour include: Jeremy Kahn performing Pepper Adams at The Chicago Jazz Festival (Sept. 2); the star-studded PEPPER ADAMS JOY ROAD CELEBRATION NYC (September 24 -30); an Adams’ birthday celebration led by Pat LaBarbera in Toronto (10/6), and a Pepper Adams week in Los Angeles featuring Gary Smulyan, Dale Fielder, and Eric Reed.
The New York City week is the most lavish. It kicks off with premiere performances of new Adams big-band charts at the Village Vanguard by the Grammy® winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (in which Adams once held the baritone chair); there is an Alexis Cole CD release at Smoke (9/26); a spectacular performance dubbed “The Three Baris” at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem (Sept 29) – The Three Baris are: Gary Smulyan, Frank Basile, and Ronnie Cuber. They will be backed by famed Pepper Adams’ collaborators, George Mraz (bass), Don Friedman (piano) and Kenny Washington (drums). And, to top off the Pepper feast, Birdland Jazz Club will present new Bevan Manson string quartet arrangements of Adams’ ballads; a tribute to Pepper by world renowned composer David Amram; and on that double-billed evening, a special feature with Arturo O’Farrill and Lew Tabackin.
As for the jazz musicians participating around the country, Carner is thrilled at their enthusiasm: “They have all been flipping out for the chance to participate; there’s so much love for Adams. That’s really what it’s about; it all gets back to the heart. People are coming out of the woodwork.”
Motéma Music’s Jazz For Wine Lovers Series
One more key aspect to the JOY ROAD tour is that the JOY ROAD SAMPLER has been selected as the inaugural release from Motéma’s new Jazz For Wine Lovers series. Two of Carner’s Sommelier Direct boutique vineyard clients, Standing Stone Vineyards and Stangeland Vineyards, have come on board as co-sponsors for the JOY ROAD release. A free song download of the title track, “JOY ROAD”, will be given to each person who joins the email list at jazzforwinelovers.com this fall.
“It’s about passion,” Carner adds. “Motéma’s passion for the art form, the passion of the winemakers (who are all jazz fans), and my love for Pepper. Love and passion move the world.”
Pepper Adams JOY ROAD Celebration
in New York City, September 24-30
* Get your Pepper Passport now exclusively at JazzForWineLovers.com to gain entry to all NYC Joy Road events and get free wine & other perks for one low price
Monday, September 24 @ Village Vanguard
178 Seventh Avenue South, New York, NY
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra Honors Pepper Adams:
Special Charts and Special Guests and Special Tributes to the late Baritone Saxophonist.
Two Sets: 9PM and 11PM
Tuesday, September 25th @ Smoke Jazz and Supper Club
2751 Broadway, New York, NY
Mike Ledonne’s “The Hammond B3 Meets Pepper Adams”
featuring Mike LeDonne (Hammond B3), Gary Smulyan (baritone sax),
Peter Bernstein (guitar), and Joe Farnsworth (drums).
Three Sets: 7PM, 9PM, and 10:30PM
Wednesday, September 26th @ Smoke Jazz and Supper Club
2751 Broadway, New York, NY
Alexis Cole CD Release Event – I Carry Your Heart: Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams
featuring Alexis Cole (vocals), Adam Birnbaum (piano), Eric Alexander (tenor sax),
Jim Cammack (bass), Clarence Penn (drums)
Three Sets: 7PM, 9PM, and 10:30pm
Friday, September 28th @ Smalls Jazz Club
183 West 10th Street, New York, NY
The Frank Basile Sextet Plays Pepper Adams
featuring Frank Basile (baritone sax), John Mosca (trombone), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Adam Birnbaum (piano), David Wong (bass), and Tim Horner (drums)
Two Sets: 7:30PM and 8:45PM
Friday, September 28 @ The Blue Note
131 W. 3rd St., New York, NY
Rising Funk/Jazz Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin & Soul Squad
include a funked out Pepper Adams tune in her late night groove set
featuring special guest Akie Bermiss
One Set: 12:30AM
Saturday, September 29th @ Ginny’s Supper Club at The Red Rooster in Harlem
310 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY
The Three Baris Play Pepper: featuring Gary Smulyan, Frank Basile, and Ronnie Cuber
with Don Friedman (piano), George Mraz (bass), and Kenny Washington (drums)
Two Sets: 9:00PM and 10:30PM
Sunday, September 30th @ Birdland Jazz Club
315 West 44th Street, New York, NY
Double Bill: Urban Dreams and String Quartets: The Arturo O’Farrill Trio
plus special guest, Lew Tabackin (sax and flute), Perform Works of Pepper Adams
plus The World Premiere of new arrangements of Pepper Adams compositions for String Quartet by Bevan Manson, and a new String Quartet composition by David Amram, dedicated to Pepper Adams, featuring: Gary Smulyan (bari sax) and George Mraz (bass).
Two shows: 9PM and 11PM.
Joy Road Products
JOY ROAD: SAMPLER (CD)
Features 11 Highlight Tracks from The Complete Works of Pepper Adams Five Volume Set
I CARRY YOUR HEART: ALEXIS COLE SINGS PEPPER ADAMS (CD)
The World Premiere Recordings of Pepper Adams Music Paired with Lyrics
JOY ROAD: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF PEPPER ADAMS (DIGITAL BOX SET)
Five Volume, 51 Track Set with Detailed Historical Notes