Carr Center
311 East Grand River
Detroit, Michigan
313-965-8430 Ext. 23

Pepper Adams

Pepper Adams, Baritone Sax & Clark Terry - "Straight, No Chaser" (T. Monk), TV, Sweden, Aug. 1978

Pepper Adams was born inHighland Park, Michigan. His family moved to Rochester, New York, when he was young, and in that city he began his musical efforts on tenor sax and clarinet. At age 16, Adams moved to Detroit and switched to baritone sax; this proved to be successful, as by 1947 he was playing in Lucky Thompson's band. 


In Detroit, Adams also met several jazz musicians who would become future partners, including trumpeterDonald Byrd. Adams now became interested in Wardell Gray's approach to the saxophone, later naming Gray and Harry Carney as his influences. He also spent time in a United States Army band, and briefly had a tour of duty in Korea.

He later moved to New York City, where he played on the album Dakar with John Coltrane, played with Lee Morgan on The Cooker, and briefly worked with Benny Goodman's band in 1958. During this time, Adams also began working withCharles Mingus, performing on one of Mingus's most acclaimed albums from the period, Blues & Roots. Thereafter, he recorded with Mingus sporadically until the latter's death in 1979. He later became a founding member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, with whom he played from 1965 to 1976, and thereafter continued to record Jones's compositions on many of his own albums.Adams also co-led a quintet with Donald Byrd from 1958 to 1962, with whom he recorded a live date, 10 to 4 at the 5 Spot, featuring Elvin Jones,[5] and a sequence of albums for Blue Note.

In later years, Adams toured England and Continental Europe several times, performing there with local rhythm sections, and he performed with a Count Basie tribute band at the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice. He died of lung cancer inBrooklyn, New York, on September 10, 1986.

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