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    Art Pepper: Blues for the Fisherman

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    Images-3Today Laurie Pepper, Art Pepper's widow, has released a four-CD set of Pepper performing in London at Ronnie's Scott's on June 27 and 28, 1980, two years before the alto saxophonist's death. It may well be the finest recording of late Pepper released on Laurie Pepper's Widow's Taste label.

    Frank Sinatra: Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

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    DownloadRing-a-Ding-Ding! was Frank Sinatra's first album for his newly formed Reprise label. Recorded in December 1960, Sinatra brought in Johnny Mandel to arrange after hearing his swinging work for Vic Damone at the Sands in Las Vegas. For years, the analog and digital releases have had a paper-thin sound and annoying echo. Now Concord has reissued this classic, cleaning up earlier sonic problems in the remastering process. What's more, there are two bonus tracks that make this new 50th anniversary release a must-own.

    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 3)

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    Berry_gordyOver the past two days, some fans of Motown and Marvin Gaye have sent along emails insisting that Berry Gordy Jr., Motown's founder, was rewriting history. Their contention is that Mr. Gordy had blocked What's Going On in 1970 and 1971 and that he had heated arguments with Gaye over its release. Of course, we will never truly know what actually took place between them, since there are no documents, emails or video. For years Mr. Gordy has been vilified for being a whole range of things. Maybe some of those things are true. Maybe not. I have no idea.

    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 2)

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    81Zcnz-iAPL._SL600_Meeting Berry Gordy Jr. while on assignment for the Wall  Street Journal last week was quite a thrill. Having listened to Motown records since I'm a kid, it was quite something to spend an hour and a half with the person who built the label from scratch and developed the talent. And all of those skills Mr. Gordy learned on his own, without an apprenticeship or a relative in the business.

    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 1)

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    09_Berry-GordyMarvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971) is one of my favorite albums. As I've posted in this space in the past, the album has an unmatched sophisticated and sensitive tribal jazz-soul feel and a powerful socio-political message. For those unfamiliar with What's Going On, the album's vision and success changed soul music, giving artists greater latitude to express their opinons about injustice, poverty, war, pollution and other topics controversial at the time. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), I interview Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. on Gaye and the making of What's Going On. [Photo of Berry Gordy Jr. by Matt Sayles/AP]

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