Pepper Adams


There have been precious few virtuoso baritone saxophone players in the history of jazz. Pepper Adams is one of them, redefining the instrument’s capabilities with his deep-swinging, Hard Bop growl. Unlike the romantic, satin-and-sandpaper tone of Harry Carney or the cool-jazz fluidity of Gerry Mulligan, Adams had a gruff, no-nonsense tone, playing with the lightning speed and harmonic density usually associated with tenor or alto sax players. His most prolific period occurred from 1958-1963, when he made several notable recordings as a bandleader, including a full album of Charles Mingus tunes. He was also a highly prolific sideman, recording important sessions with John Coltrane, Johnny Griffin, Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, and Donald Byrd. Adams’s hard-edged playing paved the way for such Post Bop and Avant-Garde baritone giants as Hamiett Bluiett, James Carter, and Alex Harding.
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