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Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor

15 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor + ART: Why I Stuck with a Junkie Jazzman + Straight Life: The Story Of Art Pepper
Price for all three: $50.00

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Editorial Reviews

This 50 minute jazz DVD features Art Pepper, one of the gr eat alto saxophonists. This documentary is a painfully reve aling portrait of this cult figure and contains lots of mus ic.


Special Features

  • Tracks Include: "Red Car," "Patricia" and "Miss Who?"

Product Details

  • Actors: Art Pepper, Laurie Pepper
  • Directors: Don McGlynn
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: SHANACHIE
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 1999
  • Run Time: 48 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00002E1YO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,677 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: DVD
Art Pepper's torturous life story is told by the man himself and the woman who saved his life. This video not only presents his story but a few amazing performances which find Pepper squeezing every bit of soul into his horn. Riveting viewing and a treasure for the live bits.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on January 17, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This work was made in 1982 which was the time of Mr Pepper's post smack post prison renaissance documented musically on the wonderful 16CD Galaxy Box Set issued c1990. Although the film is only 42 minutes plus credits there is nothing superfluous on it and for a music lover, the live performance of PATRICIA is worth the price of the DVD. But Mr Pepper is also an articulate, honest individual and the viewer is made privy to his bedroom, his dreams, origin and meaning of his tats, his eating habits, upbringing, and prison experience et al. I've never tired of his music and this DVD is a complementary and essential document for one of the most expressive, talented musicians of the last century. He says in the film: "I'm a genius. I don't know anyone who can play the alto better than I can at this moment." The amazing thing is, I didn't wince when he said this. He may have been right. He was also quite a funny guy with a self-deprecating wit.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter La Barbera on April 4, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
After seeing this poignant and moving video about the torture and genius of a true jazz great, I had to make a comment.Having followed his music since the days of Stan Kenton, it's wonderful to be able to retain a little piec of his music on video. This should be in every jazz fan's library.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Franzman on December 10, 2002
Format: DVD
I came to like Art Pepper later in my musical journey. I was always more of a trumpet fan, having only come to appreciate the saxophone after hearing John Coletrane or Cannonball Adderly play on Miles Davis records. Point is, I was never a huge fan of the sax. But in 2001 I stumbled upon a cd in a library, "Art Pepper Thursday Night At The Village Vanguard" and it sounded so real, so raw, and yet so polished that it actually PUTS you in the legendary club for the gig. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke, the booze, hear and feel the people around you, pressing in to take in the live jazz, done by a genius. I then purchased the rest of the cd series, "Friday Night", "Saturday Night" and "More For Les". These Art Pepper discs contain masterful playing, captured at a peak of sorts with a rhythm section that put the songs first, not the solos.
Needless to say, when this Art Pepper DVD came out, I had to have a look. It is a very sober interview with a man who has had many un-sober days, and he tackles the tough questions head-on. From telling how it felt to do heroin for the first time, for the thirtieth time, to his experience with de-tox and withdrawal agony in a cell in prison, to finally meeting his daughter and writing a song for her even though his gestures were never re-ciprocated, this is a painful, intimate look at the man, the music, the mess and the mystique of jazz. It really puts you there with him for an hour or so, both playing and telling you about it. If you like the "feel" of jazz, of blues, this delivers a good short dose of it. Get this, dim the lights, and enjoy! --mf
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joe Marquez on March 10, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Art Pepper is, in my opinion, the greatest jazz alto saxophone player ever. Pepper was a truly gifted musician who managed to allow drugs to rule his world for a very long period of time. Following four stints in prison he entered the half-way house, Synanon, where he met Laurie, the woman who would become his wife and save his life. Together, they wrote his autobiography, Straight Life. The book, like this film, is brutally honest.
In this film, Art Pepper speaks of his love for his daughter, Patricia, for whom he wrote a beautiful song, and her rejection of him. Like his book, Pepper is self-deprecating, hence the brutal honesty I speak of. He does, however, also speak honestly of his being the best alto player. Charlie "Bird" Parker was already dead during this time, but one only needs to compare their recorded performances. Clearly, Pepper's tone and lyrical quality (his melodic improvisational abilities) are unsurpassed and unmatched by anyone before or after him. He was a genius who suffered long periods of exceptionally poor judgement. Laurie Pepper changed that and, because of her primarily, we are now blessed with a very large discography of his recordings. Recordings which, like his playing in this film, demonstrate to all his exceptional talent and, in short, musical genius. If you like bebop and particularly West Coast Jazz, having this beautiful film is a must.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter La Barbera on April 4, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful memory of a battered genius that was able to come back one more time and make an unequaled contribution to the jazz world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike Tarrani HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 3, 2012
Format: DVD
I'll be honest: prior to watching this I rarely listened to Art. When I did it was by chance because my favorite alto saxophonists prior to this included Johnny Hodges, Lou Donaldson and Paul Desmond. Based on the performances in this video I have added Art to the list.

It's difficult to classify this film. It is somewhat biographical in that a few details of his early life emerge in his narrative. Most of his discussion, though, is centered on his transgressions and drug addiction.

Complicating any attempt to classify this film is the great performances that amply show Art's abilities as a great musician and genius on the alto. These are not snippets, but complete performances. While I was mildly interested in Art the man, it was the performances that hooked me on Art the musician and his music, sending me on a quest to listen to more.

A central character, aside from Art, is his wife who was behind his getting his life together and concentrating on using his musical gifts instead of squandering them. This is a stark contrast to Let's Get Lost which chronicles Chet Baker's sad life. Like Baker, Art remained active and retained his gifts. Unlike Baker, Art had one loving woman who had his best interests at heart and worked to make sure he succeeded.

Overall, if you are not an Art Pepper fan you may not be as drawn into this video as someone who loves his music. If you happen to watch this by chance and know little about Art, this film may pique your interest and motivate you to discover more. It opened my eyes to what I had been missing and turned me into a fan.
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