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The Complete Free Wheeling Sessions

Ted Brown & Art Pepper

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Album Review

Lone Hill Jazz presents a package of vintage cool West Coast jazz, bringing to light 16 excellent tracks that have all but fallen through the cracks over the years. On Monday, November 26, 1956 (which just happened to be the day that Tommy Dorsey died), tenor saxophonists Ted Brown and Warne Marsh brought their working quintet into a Los Angeles recording studio to make Brown's first album as a leader, with special guest alto saxophonist Art Pepper adding his own third dimension. Brown's rhythm section consisted of pianist Ronnie Ball, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Jeff Morton. This sextet's music is extraordinarily personable; the ballads ("Once We Were Young") and relaxed grooves ("Foolin' Myself") are beautifully rendered, while the upbeat numbers ("Avalon") have a quicksilver quality that stems from the fact that Brown and Marsh were both students of Lennie Tristano. Putting Pepper all over the top of the band resulted in a marvelous blend of hearts and minds. For years a rare collector's item, Free Wheeling by the Ted Brown Sextet featuring Art Pepper (Vanguard LP 8515) is now available for the first time on compact disc. What makes this compilation even tastier is the inclusion of material recorded on the same day using the same ensemble without Ted Brown and with Gary Frommer replacing Jeff Morton. The front-line combination of Pepper and Marsh works incredibly well. According to Lee Konitz, who sat in on the date only to listen, this is some of the best work that Warne Marsh ever did in a recording studio. Given his passion for this particular corner of the music, it would be interesting to hear what Anthony Braxton would have to say about it. Some of the Pepper/Marsh tracks first appeared in 1966 on Art Pepper's Contemporary album The Way It Was. To have access to all of these master takes from this one day of collective creativity is a thrill, a treat, and a blessing.

The Complete Free Wheeling Sessions, Ted Brown
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