Ted Gioia on Art Pepper
We're enjoying and recommend the music writing of Ted Gioia on Substack. Here is a great piece on Art Pepper.
"You could read saxophonist Art Pepper at middle age like a painting—if you dared.
On his upper right arm, you saw a tattoo of a skeleton’s death head smoking an opium pipe—a harbinger both of the artist’s early death and its roots in self-destructive addiction. Below that, Pepper’s lower arm showcased the tragic and comic masks of ancient drama, representing the performer’s vocation and its often conflicting demands.
He put a naked woman near his heart, a sentimental gesture (Art never lost his tender, romantic side). There was another lady on his back, maybe there’s a symbol there too. But on his left arm, Art gave prime placement to Pan, the god of wild ecstasy, linked by tradition both to music and dangerous revelry. Finally, defusing the somber mood, Pepper added, higher up on the same arm, Linus and Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip.
“I’ve always liked Peanuts,” he explained."
Read the full article here: