Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor
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Top Customer Reviews
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
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just too slow. Done near the end of his career. Could see the effects of the ravages of drugs. The video & audio quality is also poor. Read morePublished 8 months ago by West Philly Speedboy
Really like this DVD about Art Pepper a lot of great live footage, and nice peek into the life of Art and his wife. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Steve B.
A very interesting documentary that includes interviews and several live performances of the great Art Pepper, filmed in his final period, when the deterioration produced by his... Read morePublished 12 months ago by ANGEL LOPEZ-CARBONELL
Not for all tastes, but I don't recall a film that has succeeded so well in making a musician's demons, struggles, and triumphs so clear and understandable. Read morePublished on October 9, 2011 by Giuseppe C.
Art Pepper was a great, great jazz musician and a terrifyingly/wonderfully complex human being who continued to grow--musically and morally--throughout his life. Read morePublished on June 24, 2011 by R. A. Kaster
I just saw this film for the first time. I'm still stunned. It's difficult to choose only a few superior movies to compare it to. Read morePublished on April 24, 2011 by Jeffry L. Huber
This DVD does not compare with Pepper's excellent and shocking autobiography. Not even close. The book, "Straight Life" is much, much more detailed and interesting. Read morePublished on December 1, 2010 by DMT
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