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Jim Pepper - Witchi Tia To

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Uploaded on Jan 8, 2009

Jim Pepper was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and singer of Native American ancestry.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Pepper became a pioneer of fusion jazz, his band The Free Spirits (active between 1965 and 1968, with guitarist Larry Coryell) being credited as the first to combine elements of jazz and rock. His primary instrument was the tenor saxophone (he also played flute and soprano saxophone), and his characteristic incisive, penetrating tone and soulful delivery was unique for its time. A similar timbre was taken up by later players such as Jan Garbarek, Michael Brecker, and David Sanborn.

Of Kaw and Creek heritage, Pepper also achieved notoriety for his compositions combining elements of jazz and Native American music. Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman encouraged Pepper to reflect his roots and heritage and incorporate it into his jazz playing and composition. His "Witchi Tai To" (derived from a peyote healing chant of the Native American Church which he had learned from his grandfather) is the most famous example of this hybrid style; the song has been covered by many other artists including Harper's Bizarre, Ralph Towner (with and without Oregon), Jan Garbarek, and Brewer & Shipley. Pepper supported the American Indian Movement. He served as musical director for Night of the First Americans, a Native American self-awareness benefit concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in 1980 and played also on pow-wows.

Pepper was a member of the short-lived band Everything Is Everything with Chris Hills, Lee Reinoehl, Chip Baker, John Waller and Jim Zitro. Their sole album spawned the near-hit single "Witchi Tai To" (which got lots of airplay). It was issued on Vanguard Apostolic and UK Vanguard in England.

In his own projects, he recorded with Cherry, NanĂ¡ Vasconcelos, Collin Walcott, Kenny Werner, John Scofield, Ed Schuller, Hamid Drake, and others. His CD Comin' and Goin' (1983) is the definitive statement of Pepper's unique "American Indian jazz" with nine songs played by four different line-ups. He worked also with the Liberation Music Orchestra, Paul Motian' s quintet, Bob Moses, Marty Cook, Mal Waldron, David Friesen, and Amina Claudine Myers, and toured Europe intensively.

Pepper died in 1992, of lymphoma.

(copied from wikipedia)

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