Tuesday, June 6, 2017

JIm Pepper - Pepper's Pow Wow


Jim Pepper (1941-1992) was a Native American (Kaw and Creek Nations) tenor saxophonist. He was involved in early attempts at jazz/rock fusion, primarily in the band Free Spirits, which included Larry Coryell and Bob Moses. He later added traditional Native American songs and chants to the mix. One result was Pepper's anthemic song "Witchi-Tai-To," which has been covered many times by a wide variety of artists.

"Witchitai-To" (Pepper's later preferred spelling has not yet been adopted) is the lead-off track on Pepper's Pow Wow, the first album released under Pepper's name. The 1971 record is a fascinating blend of the styles mentioned above, with a touch of Johnny Cash-ish country mixed in. Among the outstanding musicians on board are guitarist Coryell, drummer, Billy Cobham, and alternating bassists Chuck Rainey and Jerry Jemmott. Pepper's father Gilbert Pepper had a hand in arranging the traditional material, and appears on vocals and percussion.

Here's "Witchitai-To," beginning with the traditional chant:



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