Art Pepper, The Hollywood All-Star Sessions (Galaxy, 1997, five discs)
Originally recorded at the end of Pepper’s career (1979-1982) and released only on a tiny Japanese label. Finally came out here in 1997 and then about 10 years after that I stuffed it into a storage box and let it rot without playing it. What kind of fool am I? An Art-Pepper-deprived fool, is what.
The consensus is that these sessions present a uniquely relaxed Pepper who can sway and glide through his specialty, ballads. And I hear that. I also hear a lifetime of suffering from the ravages of a ferocious heroin addiction — and the many superb numbers can exorcise any sort of pain.
Along with his autobiography Straight Life, I consider Hollywood All-Star Sessions Pepper’s end-of-the-(hard)-road masterpieces.