Critics’ Choice is an album led by baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams which was recorded in 1957 and originally released on the World Pacific label.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow:
Pepper Adams was one of the greatest jazz baritone saxophonists of all time. During a time when Gerry Mulligan’s cool-toned baritone was very influential, Adams rose to prominence with a harder and bigger sound, much more hard bop than cool. This relatively obscure release, originally an LP for the World Pacific label, finds the baritonist in Los Angeles matching his hard-driving style with several players identified with West Coast cool jazz. Trumpeter Lee Katzman, who is on every selection but “Blackout Blues” and “Four Funky People,” has a tone closer to Chet Baker than to Donald Byrd, but fits in well with Adams. The rhythm section is mostly laid-back and quiet but swinging. A joy of this CD reissue is the repertoire, which contains catchy originals by Adams, Barry Harris (the memorable “High Step”), Tommy Flanagan, and Thad Jones in addition to a lone standard in “Alone Together.” Adams was one of the most consistent of all jazzmen; he never seemed to make an unworthy record, so he is in typically fine form throughout this freewheeling hard bop set. “Four Funky People,” not originally on the LP but from the same sessions, is included as a bonus cut (https://www.allmusic.com/album/critics-choice-mw0000261653).
All compositions by Pepper Adams except where noted.
“Minor Mishap” (Tommy Flanagan) – 6:28
“Blackout Blues” – 4:58
“High Step” (Barry Harris) – 8:44
“Zec” (Thad Jones) – 6:35
“Alone Together” (Arthur Schwartz, Howard Dietz) – 5:51
“50-21” (Jones) – 8:12
“Four Funky People” – 4:56 Bonus track on CD reissue
Pepper Adams – baritone saxophone
Lee Katzman – trumpet (tracks 1 & 3-6)
Jimmy Rowles – piano
Doug Watkins – bass
Mel Lewis – drums
Recorded: August 23, 1957
Studio Los Angeles, CA
Label: World Pacific
Producer: Richard Bock