Consummate Art is the title of the final disc, and it is a great third act. Opening with Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” it is clear that Pepper and the band are on fire. This is glorious music, harkening back to where he began. He has returned to alto sax, and plays with a style and verve that was seemingly lost. The Coltrane influence is now just a part of Pepper’s terrain.
Out of 41 total tracks, my two favorites are contained here. “Landscape” and “Mambo Koyama” were recorded live in New York City, just two months prior to his death. Both of these songs show a man in full command of his instrument, his talent, and his band.
The Art History Project is an excellent collection. All three discs stand up to repeated listens. But I think it works on a deeper level as well. The classic Behind The Music story is an obvious cliché, but no hair-metal guy ever did the kind of prison time this man did for drugs.
Art Pepper had it all, lost it all, and actually got it all back and more in the end. The Art History Project is the musical reflection of a man’s life lived on the edge
It is also one hell of a listen.