In August of 1981, alto saxophonist Art Pepper and his quartet played 11 sets over three consecutive nights at Maiden Voyage, a Japanese-owned jazz club in Los Angeles. Sadly, Pepper died 10 months later.
Those performances were recorded, and over the years some of them found their way onto posthumous releases such as Arthur’s Blues, Art Lives, Roadgame, and The Complete Galaxy Recordings. But now, all three nights can be heard in full, as they happened, for the first time.
The Complete Maiden Voyage Recordings includes 42 performances, with 23 of them previously unissued. The lineup features Pepper backed by pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams, and drummer Carl Burnett at the short-lived club that operated from 1979 to 1983.
The performances were taped by musician and producer Ed Michel and Art’s wife, Laurie Pepper. When listening to the tapes, Art Pepper took meticulous notes about each performance, writing things like “The best solo I’ve played on this whole date—wow!!” and “This is worth the whole night!”
Produced for release by Laurie Pepper and Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski, The Complete Maiden Voyage Recordings even includes all of the banter and stories from the band’s three-night stand. The 44-page booklet features photos, Pepper’s original, handwritten notes and commentary, ephemera, and a new essay from Laurie Pepper telling Art’s story.
Art Pepper’s The Complete Maiden Voyage Recordings is out Oct. 20, 2023, on Omnivore Recordings.