Track Selection: “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” >
S7532 Art Pepper (as) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Originally recorded on 19 January 1957. All three musicians in the rhythm section were at the time part of the Miles Davis Quintet, hence “meet The rhythm section”
A heartfelt choice of song title, given Pepper’s long stretches in prison on narcotics charges, including at one term of five years in San Quentin. Perhaps shorten the title to “So Nice to Come Home”. An easy and familiar standard which gets a fresh injection of energy from Art’s flowing alto lines, in the ample space opened up by the best rhythm section of the day.
The whole record is considered a milestone in Pepper’s career, together with a series of albums he recorded in the late 1950’s for Contemporary, and which remain the cornerstone of his recorded work. Meet the Rhythm Section offers a contrasting variety of pace and mood, from the helter-skelter signature piece “Straight Life” to the darkly funky Gillespie tune “Birks Works”, and is often cited by jazz critics as one of the 100 most important records in the history of jazz.
Vinyl collector stuff: pressing, run-out and label detail
A very sought-after record in its original form, both the UK Contemporary-Vogue and US Contemporary Records pressings for 1957 are rare and competition for them is fierce. It should not go unnoticed that the market is also bursting with anonymous digital to vinyl clones with convincing card covers to catch the unwary. Check that run-out for tell-tale hand-inscribed matrix numbers and the clone-makers job-codes!
S7532 is, according to Goldmine, the second stereo US press, from 1959, a year after the first Stereo by Stereo Records S7018. The run-out carries the matrix code machine stamp of an original – LKS 35/36 – pressed with original stampers. It carries the direct lineage sound from the original tapes, though there are issues with the stereo which may explain why the mono is so sought after.(The mono in excellent condition sells for over £100 !)
The problem is a familiar one to collectors, from a time when stereo was still in its infancy. In this pressing Pepper is exclusively on the far left – in one channel only, and the right channel contains all the other instruments – piano, bass and drums. The result is one lonely tenor player on his own, a hole in the middle, and a bunch of other musicians jammed on top of each other in the right speaker. May be this was what was intended to “showcase” stereo on none too hot equipment. Mono circumvents the problem, but first you have to get one.
My copy originated from a UK seller on eBay disposing of his fathers jazz collection. From an exchange of emails, it seems his father, who was a big fan of Pepper, had actually met Art at a concert and got him to sign a copy of his book “Straight Life”. The dedication read, according to his son,” Straight Life – hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had living it.”
It’s a good line, and sometimes it’s nice that a record has some sort of heritage, some one’s much-loved item, which can continue to be enjoyed. After all, that’s what records are for. That little, and that much.