Art Pepper Day

September 1, 1925 – June 15, 1982

Mambo Koyoma

Click here to Support Jazz on the Tube

Saxophonist and clarinetist Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr. was born on September 1, 1925 in Gardena, California.

Beginning at 13, Art jammed at various clubs on Central Avenue, LA’s famous jazz hotspot.

Pepper began playing professionally with Stan Kenton and Benny Carter. In 1952, Down Beat magazine ranked him second best alto player behind Charlie Parker.

A staple of West Coast jazz, he recorded nearly nonstop until the early ‘60s.

Coming to be recognized among the top saxophonists of the period, he became a leading presence in West Coast jazz.

Some of his most popular albums produced during the 1950s would include “Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section” and “Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics”.

Despite having his career being interrupted by several prison terms due to heroin addiction, Art’s playing and ability remained remarkably unaffected.

After managing to successfully launch several memorable comebacks, Art Pepper joined Buddy Rich’s Big Band from 1968 to ’69, and would tour Europe with his own groups throughout the 1970s.

Pepper’s 1980 autobiography “Straight Life” co-written with his third wife Laurie Pepper, discusses the jazz life and the trappings of crime and drugs among California musicians.

Art Pepper is featured in rare footage performing live on Italian TV.


Art Pepper, alto sax
Milcho Leviev, piano
Bob Magnusson, bass
Carl Burnett, drums


Click here to Support Jazz on the Tube