Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section is a 1957 jazz album by saxophonist Art Pepper with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones, who at the time were the rhythm section for Miles Davis's quintet. The album is considered a milestone in Pepper's career.
According to Pepper, the album was recorded under enormous pressure, as he first learned of the recording session the morning he was due in the studio, and he had never met the other musicians, all of whom he greatly admired. He was playing on an instrument in a bad state of repair, and was suffering from a drug problem. Purportedly, Pepper had not played the saxophone for some time, either for two weeks (according to the liner notes), or six months (according to Pepper's autobiography Straight Life), although the discography in Straight Life indicates that Pepper had recorded many sessions in the previous weeks, including one five days earlier.
Michael G. Nastos of AllMusic called the recording "a classic east meets west, cool plus hot but never lukewarm combination that provides many bright moments for the quartet during this exceptional date from that great year in music, 1957."
Brian Morton and Richard Cook, writing for The Penguin Jazz Guide (10th ed.), described Meets the Rhythm Section as "a poetic, burning date, with all four men playing above themselves…. Between them, they'd delivered a masterpiece." In previous Penguin Guide editions, the album was included in the "Core Collection," and received a four-star rating (of a possible four stars).
Becky Byrkit, writing for The All Music Guide, deemed the album "a diamond of recorded jazz history."
New York Times critic Ben Ratliff described Meets the Rhythm Section as "an honest record; if you believe the story of its making, you'd have to conclude that Pepper, unprepared and unarmored, was forced to pull the music out of himself, since tepid run-throughs and stock licks weren't going to work in such exalted company."
Art Pepper - alto saxophone
Red Garland - piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Philly Joe Jones - drums
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