Hi. I'm Gary Carner, an independent jazz researcher living in Atlanta. Welcome to my Kickstarter page.
For the past 30 years I've been researching the life and music of the great baritone saxophonist and composer Pepper Adams. My journey began when I met Adams in 1984 and soon thereafter interviewed him at length about his glorious life. Only a few months later, Adams was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I witnessed the fall of this great musician and friend.
After Adams' death in 1986, I began to interview many of Pepper's colleagues; none more important than pianist Tommy Flanagan, who was one of the last to see Pepper before he died. Flanagan told me about his visit with Adams, four days before his death. Pepper was lapsing in and out of a coma, but, at one point, Pepper reached out for the transcripts of my interviews with him that were stacked on his nightstand. Adams tried to feebly nudge them in Tommy's direction, to bring attention to them and give them weight. Adams wanted this material to survive him, and Flanagan made sure I was aware of it. Then and there, as the power of Flanagan's story washed over me, while my eyes brimmed with tears, I knew that I would dedicate my life to preserving Adams' legacy.
It's now thirty years later and Pepper Adams has become a crusade, my life's purpose. I've collated his papers, his lead sheets, his photographs, and the remains of his estate. I've established an extensive website, pepperadams.com, to maintain the historical record of his life and work. Every Saturday I post a new entry on my blog, The Master, to encourage discussion about Adams. My first book about him, Pepper Adams' Joy Road: An Annotated Discography, has now been published and is soon out in paperback. I'm well along on his full-length biography too. But what about Pepper's amazing but overlooked compositions? I had done the work to unearth them but what was to be done with my discovery?
About eight years ago I had an epiphany. A saxophonist in Chicago, Ron Kolber, told me that Pepper had sent him many of his lead sheets three weeks before he passed away. Adams had told Kolber, an old army buddy, to "Protect them with your life!" and, fortunately, he did. Maybe I should produce a CD of Pepper tunes? That seemed appropriate. Then one night, while ruminating at the Village Vanguard, it hit me: "All of them!" I concluded. One album wouldn't be enough. "It's about the legacy," I remembered. I'd have to record all 42 compositions. So, sure enough, during 2006 and 2007, I pursued my dream of producing this complete collection. In my new role as record producer, I organized recording sessions in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Tallahassee. I hired the leaders and arrangers, handpicked the musicians, chose the studios and engineers, and carefully assigned the tunes so that each of the four volumes would present as many facets of Adams' repertoire as possible. My greatest obligation was to Pepper's music.
A few years after I finished recording Adams' complete body of work, I started thinking again about his seven ballads and Pepper's unfulfilled wish to have lyrics written for them. I felt this was a really important project to undertake, consistent with Adams' wishes. In 2012, that project came to fruition with the release of I Carry Your Heart, Volume 5 of my Adams series.
All five volumes were released by Motema Music. Motema put together an extraordinary marketing campaign to promote the CDs, and, at the same time, my first Pepper Adams book was, at long last, published. A 2012 tour, with concerts, lectures, and other events, took place in forty cities in the U.S. and Canada that gave me a chance to promote both and evangelize about Adams' greatness.
This brings me to the present, because, starting last year, I was introduced to the amazing British arranger Tony Faulkner, one of Thad Jones' greatest disciples, who decided to accept my commission to arrange a few Pepper tunes for big band. It was my dream to produce a sixth CD of Pepper's work for big band, and Faulkner got completely immersed in Adams' oeuvre, eventually doing 22 charts, a 15-minute suite dedicated to Adams (Park Frederick III), and he's now writing a new set of charts for a recording we're doing with the Tim Horner-Ron Horton Tentet!
Equally dedicated is baritone saxophonist Glenn Wilson, one of Pepper's earliest proteges. Because it's prohibitively expensive to record a big band, Wilson offered to record Faulkner's charts with his very fine University of Illinois student orchestra, at the school's expense. Although we agreed that Illinois' Concert Jazz Band is one of the leading college jazz orchestras in the world, we needed to insure that the performance was at a professional level and consistent with the rest of the Motema CDs. As co-producers, Glenn and I concluded that the best way to achieve this would be to rehearse the student band all semester, then, at the very end, add the world class Illinois faculty as soloists and as the rhythm section.
Over the 2013 Easter weekend, Wilson and the CJB and faculty recorded ten Faulkner arrangements. We now have a great selection of ten unmixed Pepper Adams compositions, featuring brilliant solos by
Tito Carrillo (trumpet and flugelhorn)
Jim Pugh (trombone)
Chip McNeill (soprano and tenor saxophones)
Glenn Wilson (baritone saxophone)
Chip Stephens (piano)
Larry Gray (bass)
Joel Spencer (drums)
In the meantime, a concert tour, with world premieres of this fantastic music, was built, starting in Atlanta in late October, 2013, and lasting almost until Thanksgiving. Tony Faulkner, not known outside his country, now has the opportunity to conduct this great music in North America. This sustains the momentum generated by last year's book and CD tour. Faulkner is flying over from Leeds, England to travel with me for four weeks. Clinics, lectures, and performances are scheduled in Cincinnati, Champaign IL, Macomb IL, Detroit, Toronto, New York, Teaneck and Montclair NJ, and Williamsburg VA, with a number of other exciting events still in progress.
Please note that, apart from the money set aside to pay Kickstarter, Amazon, and the cost of goods sold, 75% of all pledge revenue covers the cost to produce the CD, and only 25% goes to the tour. All of the 25% is to pay for Faulkner's flight from the UK and the gas we'll need to drive 5,000 miles around North America preaching about Pepper Adams.
We do this because of our passion for the music and our commitment to Adams' legacy. Pepper Adams is one of jazz's few post-war stylists; as complete a musician as we've ever had. Yet, he's still very little known by jazz fans and musicians, except for all baritone saxophonists worldwide, who idolize him. Adams' compositions too are little known.
Because of his obscurity, I've found that it's important to market Adams, to have his music heard in clubs, on the radio, and at colleges. Faulkner and I have an opportunity to get these charts played for receptive audiences, pre-sell the CD, and make your generosity so much more enduring.
In order to release this recording, and subsidize the CD marketing tour to promote this great music in advance of its commercial release, I'm asking for your help. Kickstarter is a project-driven, crowd-funding website that allows the Pepper Adams world community to work together in a grassroots way to make this happen and perpetuate Pepper Adams' music. But it's an all-or-nothing deal. If I don't meet or exceed my goal of $7,000 by the 30-day deadline, no money changes hands, no rewards are given, the new recording stays on the shelf, and the tour is in jeopardy. Can you please help? Can you work with me to bring this exciting project to fruition?
Your contributions will go directly towards paying for:
Tony Faulkner's arrangements (done on spec, and still unpaid)
Professional mixing and mastering of the recording
Tony Faulkner's airfare to and from the UK
Gas expense (to drive from Atlanta to Chicago, then to Detroit, Toronto, New York, and back to Atlanta)
On the right side of the screen you'll see the different pledge levels that I've set, along with their corresponding rewards. Please take a moment to see what level is right for you. Included, with much love and gratitude, are some very unusual things, some very rare from my Pepper Adams archive, that only you and a few others will have:
Rare audience recordings of Pepper Adams
CDs of my 1984 interviews with Pepper Adams
PDFs of Tony Faulkner's 130-page unpublished jazz arranging and composing book
A DVD of Gary Carner's lecture "Pepper Adams: Genius Outlier"
Tony Faulkner's autographed, 38-page score "Park Frederick III" (his dedication to Adams)
mp3 downloads and advance copies of the new CD
A "Thank You" in the liner notes of the new recording
PDFs of the full score and parts of Tony Faulkner's arrangement of Pepper Adams' Ephemera
Free arranging lessons with Tony Faulkner, anywhere in the world via Skype.
PDFs to all 32 big band and tentet Faulkner arrangements of Pepper Adams' music
Free admission for two to any concerts on the upcoming tour
A farm-to-table dinner for two in Atlanta with Gary Carner
Executive Producer credit on the big band CD
If you're tight on cash, but still want to help, you can provide immeasurable assistance for free by spreading the word! This would be of great value to Pepper Adams' legacy, since I'm largely unplugged into social media. Please let your friends, family, email lists, Facebook and MySpace and other friends and Twitter followers know about this project?
This is a 30-day sprint, so your help is so greatly appreciated! Many thanks for checking out my Kickstarter page! I'm looking forward to sharing this music with you. Long live Pepper Adams!
Risks and challenges
There aren't any risks, unless the record company unexpectedly decides they don't like the recording. I already have a commitment from Motema in principal, so I don't see it as a real concern. Moreover, the performances rock, so it's really moot. Should the unexpected happen, however, I will self-produce physical CDs to fulfill all pledges and the music will be released digitally on CD Baby until I find another label.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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