Art Pepper was described as the greatest alto-saxophonist of the post-Charlie Parker generation. Straight Life, originally narrated on tape to his wife Laurie, is an explosive work chronicling his work amidst a life dealing with alcoholism, heroin addiction, armed robberies and imprisonment.
The result is an autobiography like no other, a masterpiece of the spoken word, shaped into a genuine work of literature.
“Straight Life demonstrates again and again that Pepper had the ear and memory and interpretative lyricism of a first-rate novelist … He did five years in San Quentin and his descriptions of life there are relentless and brilliant … He had no illusions nor did he have any remorse or self-pity … He was an eloquent and gifted man”
See more reviews
“One of the most memorable jazz memoirs”
“A tough, dizzying, hard and honest book that will haunt anybody who opens it”
“The most powerful, mind-riveting, brutally honest document I’ve ever read by an artist”
“A shattering portrait of genius confronted with human weakness … possibly the best memoir ever written by a jazz musician. A story that ranks with The Autobiography of Malcolm X in its direct honesty and power”
kansas City Star
Art Pepper (1925–1982) was an American alto saxophonist and clarinetist. He was born in Gardena, California, and raised in nearby San Pedro. He began playing the clarinet at age 9 and by 15 was performing in Lee Young’s band at the Club Alabam, the home of jazz in pre-war Los Angeles. He began his career in the 1940s, playing with Benny Carter and Stan Kenton. Some of his most famous albums are Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, Art Pepper + Eleven (Modern Jazz Classics), Gettin’ Together and Smack Up. In 1952 he placed second only to Charlie Parker in the Down Beat jazz poll.