Gimme Five: Overlooked jazz woodwind recordings by Art Pepper, Paul Gonsalves, Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Stitt

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by S. Victor Aaron

Some favorite jazz albums of mine that don’t come up at the top of anyone else’s top records list, but I thought were outstanding despite the lack of publicity about them. …

1) Art Pepper with George Cables, Goin’ Home (1982)
Art’s last recording, played gently with the passion of a man who knows he is putting in his last breaths into his alto and clarinet. Cables is way underatted as a pianist and his suberb accompaniment in this duo setting demonstrates why.

2) Paul Gonsalves (pictured at left), Gettin’ Together (1960)
His 27 choruses playing for Ellington at Newport in ’56 made Duke vital well into the sixties. One of only a handful of records released by Gonsalves as a leader, this tenor master is backed on this outing by heavies like Wynton Kelly, Nat Adderley, Sam Jones and Jimmy Cobb.

3) Roland Kirk, Rip, Rig and Panic/Now Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith (1965, 1967)
A twofer of records orginally recorded in the mid-sixties, Kirk’s mastery of wind instruments ranging from tenor sax to a stritch–and the ability to play several of these instruments at once–is never more in evidence here. But his songwriting shows impressive range as well: Everything from Jelly Roll Morton to rock n roll is all credibly represented here.

Add to that a rare grade A backing band (Jaki Byard, Elvin Jones and Richard Davis), and you’ve got a collection that exceeds even the better known “Inflated Tear.”

4) Eric Dolphy with Booker Little; Far Cry (1960)
One of the earlier avant garde recordings not associated with Ornette Coleman, Dolphy brings amazing technique to the flute, bass clarinet and alto sax. He can navigate tricky chords changes with ease on ‘Miss Ann’ or melt your heart with a beautiful solo ballad on ‘Serene’.

But if that weren’t enough, there’s young Booker Little’s outstanding trumpet playing (and alas, another jazz tragedy in the making). This record is a lot more focused than the better-known Dolphy/Little pairing “Live At The Five Spot”.

5) Sonny Stitt, Endgame Brilliance (1972)
Another twofer originally released separately as “Constellation” and “Tune-Up”, Stitt is at the absolute top of his game as one of the best ever tenor/alto Charlie Parker disciple.

It’s be-bop, nothing more, nothing less. And it’s done as right as rain.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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