Pepper Adams

Park (Pepper) Adams was born in Highland Park, Illinois on the 8th of October 1930.

Played in early adolescence in Rochester, New York, then in Detroit with Lucky Thompson at the age of 16. He toured with Lionel Hampton that same year (1947). During the years 1951-1953 he worked with fellow Detroit youngsters Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan and Elvin Jones. Played in the sax section of the Stan Kenton Orchestra in 1956 and then Maynard Ferguson's band and Chet Baker's group in 1957. His first recording under his own name came out of theWest Coast on World Pacific called "Critics Choice" (he was winner of the new star category in the International Jazz Critics Poll for Down Beat magazine that year).

Back in New York in 1958 he worked with Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and Donald Byrd,and became quite active in the studios. He was a founder member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band 1965-78 and did a number of European tours. Whilst in Europe he recorded under his own name ("Ephemera" on the Spotlite label in London, "Julian" a live session from the Domicile club on Enja, also from the same date in Munchen and on the same label "Twelfth and Pingree" and "Live in Europe" on the Impro label from France.

In the 1980's he undertook several solo tours in the U.S.A., Europe and Japan and recorded with the Denny Christianson Big Band in Montreal, Quebec for the Justin Time label.

Pepper Adams was a typical product of the post-bop era, one of very few players to attempt this style on the baritone sax. His hard, dry-sounding tone enhanced the razor-edged precision of his timing and his unstoppable steam-roller lines. The jazz world lost a wonderful human being and musician when Pepper succumbed to lung cancer on the 10th of September 1986.