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October 3, 2019

Detroit Jazz Birthdays for October, Part One

Pepper Adams and Kenny Garrett 


Pepper Adams / Photo:


 Pepper Adams, (Photo: Pinteres)


 Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III (October 8, 1930 – September 10, 1986)


“Pepper ” Adams was a Baritone Saxophonist and composer who was born in Highland Park, Mi. and was one of the leaders of the fervent 1950’s Detroit Jazz scene before expanding his influence on a national and international level.


He began playing piano at a very early age and soon went on to play tenor sax and clarinet. It wasn’t until he used his employee discount while working at Detroit’s Grinnell’s music store that he bought his first baritone sax, for which he is best known.


He was soon playing with Detroit’s legendary Lucky Thompson and his band and began meeting other notables from that era, who would become future musical collaborators such as Donald Byrd.  During that period he also became Music Director of Detroit’s famed Blue Bird Inn where he played with Thad Jones and big names.


During the course of his career he also played with such notables as  Kenny Burrell, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Fuller, Chet Baker and Quincy Jones.  He played with John Coltrane in New York and on the album “Dakar”, and with Lee Morgan on “The Cooker” as well.


In the 1960’s Pepper Adams continued to work with the top musicians of the idiom including Charles Mingus, Marcus Belgrave, Thelonius Monk, Lionel Hampton. He also worked for Motown records during the label’s formative years.




Kenny Garrett / courtesy All About


 Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit on October 9, 1960 and was a 1978 graduate of Mackenzie High School. His father was a carpenter who played tenor saxophone as a hobby.


Over the course of his career that has spanned more than 30 years, Kenny Garrett is one of the most important alto saxophonists in contemporary Jazz.  Having played early on with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (led by Mercer Ellington) followed by time spent with musicians and influential style makers as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, Garrett has continued to bring his truly distinctive “voice” to each musical situation. He is also a gifted composer and writes and arranges most of the music on his recordings


During his career, Garrett has performed and recorded with many other Jazz greats such as a life changing five-year period with Miles Davis in addition to time spent with legendary artists who help shape the direction of modern Jazz including, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones and many others.


Kenny talks about playing with Miles Davis…


“ I was in Miles’ band for about five years. I think that tag will always be there. That is five years of my life. That’s the only musical situation that I was there longer than a year. It was a good five years. I have gotten used to that. Some people became aware of me through Miles and then they would come to my concerts. I think that is part of my history and I am proud of that.


” I am still trying to carve out my own name and my own music. I just look at it as a part of history and it is going to be there.


Every time they mention Kenny Garrett, there will probably be some association with Miles Davis, but at the same time, when they mention Herbie Hancock, they always mention Miles Davis, or Wayne Shorter. You get used to it after a while. ( ”




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.







































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