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Art Pepper; Notes from a Jazz Survivor is an intensely personal, painfully revealing portrait of one of jazz’ greatest alto saxophonists – a remarkably expressive jazz soloist and composer who also was an addict, thief, alcoholic, womanizer and wildman.
Pepper’s phenomenal musical gifts developed early. From the time he took up the saxophone at the age of 12, he proved such a natural that soon he was jamming around L.A. with musicians like Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon. By the time he was 17, he was playing lead alto for Stan Kenton.
In candid interviews, he recounts his troubled marriages, dependence on drugs, prison terms, and luck in meeting his last wife Laurie, an articulate, compassionate defender of her errant husband. Through her devotion he was able to channel his immense reservoirs of pain, anger and frustration back into the lyric poetry of his playing.
For over half of the film, Art leads a trio at a club in Malibu. Instead of deteriorating over the years of addiction, incarceration and silence, his style had expanded and deepened. After wasting so much of his life, we can only believe Art when he said. “Every time I play, I realize that it might be the last time. That’s not being melodramatic. I just realize when you get to my age, things happen.”
Live performances include Red Car, Patricia and Miss Who? Featured songs include: Our Song, Mambo Koyama and Ophelia.