Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jim Pepper - Pepper's Pow Wow (1971)

First off, this isn't my rip--it's another newsgroup grab. I wish I had kept track of the name of the poster but whoever he/she was he/she has my eternal thanks. This is a great record. It's criminal that it isn't available on CD--one online discography for Jim Pepper mentions a private label CD but I have been unable to find any further info & I believe that it was a bootleg recording.

Today Pepper may be better known among fusion jazz afficianados than fans of pop music who if anything only know his oft-covered hit "Witchi-Tai-To," a peyote chant Jim learned from his grandfather. A number of the other songs on this record are credited to his father, Gilbert (Gil) who plays on this records. So this is record that reflects (at least) three generations of musical input--really it reflects a lot longer tradition. Pepper was an American Indian--if you couldn't guess from listening to the record--his father was a Kaw and his mother a Creek. And this record is still, in IMHO, the finest fusion of American Indian musical traditions with other American musical styles. Pepper's first recording was as a member of the pioneer jazz-rock band (I hestitate to call them fusion) the Free Spirits. He also performed on a couple of rock records, Sandy Hurvitz's album and a single Fugs track, but most of his work was decidely jazz. He played tenor sax and flute with Don Cherry, Paul Motian, Larry Coryell, Bill Frisell, Mal Waldron & Charlie Haden among others (both as a leader & a sideman) and many of those recordings are in print. He has a fine full-bodied tone on the sax (which you can also hear on this record, which is now available on CD (and hence no longer available on this site).

Pepper's Pow Wow is an album that's harder to pidgeonhole. There's some jazz here and music that's in a Native American tradition but there's also more than a little pop, rock, gospel & soul going into it. It's one of those records that really defies genre but in a way that makes in appealing to fans of all the aforementioned styles. It is also one of the most uplifting records I've ever heard in spite of addressing subjects like America's genocidal campaigns against Native peoples and the continued racism against the American Indian. Overall it's just an exceptional album.

Jim Pepper passed away Feb 10, 1992 in Oregon, the state where he was born and raised. May he rest in peace. There is plenty of information available about him on the Web and there was a documentary about him a few years back. There's also a fine discography available from which the following information was taken. Note that the tracklist doesn't exactly match the rip I'm providing--I believe it's because 2 of the Witchi-Tai-To tracks are combined in these files.

1. Witchi-Tai-To [chant 1] (Kaw traditional)
2. Witchi-Tai-To [song] (J. Pepper)
3. Witchi-Tai-To [chant 2]
4. Squaw Song (Gilbert Pepper)
5. Rock Stomp Indian Style (G. Pepper)
6. Senecas (Peter LaFarge)
7. Yon A Ho (G. Pepper)
8. Slow War Dance (G. Pepper)
9. Nommie-Nommie (Charles Gabriel/J.M. Black)
10. Newly-Weds Song (G. Pepper)
11. Fast War Dance (G. Pepper)
12. Now War Dance (G. Pepper)
13. Drums (LaFarge)
Rec. 1971, Apostolic Studios, New York
Jim Pepper, voice, tenor and soprano saxophone, percussion; Gil Pepper, voice, percussion; Ravie Pepper, flute, voice, percussion; Larry Coryell, electric guitar; Tom Grant, piano, voice, percussion; Chuck Rainey, electric bass on 1, 4, 8, 9; Jerry Jemmott, electric bass on 2, 5, 10; Billy Cobham, drums on 1, 4, 8, 9; Spider Rice, drums on 2, 5, 7, 10


julioxo said...


julioxo said...


e.c./spinner said...

Thanks so much for posting this - it's impossible to find, for reasonable $, at least.

also, i wanted to drop a link here - my blog [cuts, not entire albums]:


Anonymous said...

Fabulous. This has saved me the $150 for the turntable to convert my copy to digital - Thanks a million!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Speaking of rare out of print albums, do you have "One Hand Clapping" recorded at one of the Big Sur festivals? I'm looking for the taj mahal cuts on it. It was originally on the Columbia/Eric label.

johnharrold said...

Earlier this year I spoke with somebody involved with the Portland Jazz Festival, and he told me that he thought that the Pepper family maintained the rights to this masterpiece. (Another Pepper fan told me that the "bootleg" that pops up on E-Bay etc. was released through the family. I do not know if this is true.)

The jazz festival guy hinted that lack of business apptitude might be responsible for it being out of print practically from its release.

He also told me that Pepper's mother is living in a nursing home in Oregon, and that she might have some problems that prohibit negotiations about the rights.

Nick said...

Here in Phila, the late legendary DJ Ed Sciaky often played Witchi Tai To on the air, he was one of the last DJ's who could freeform his Sunday evening programs. Thanks for posting. This one's for Ed!

Max said...

I remember Ed Sciaky from WYSP and WMMR--I may have even heard the song there 1st without realizing it. A great DJ.

Boztar said...

Wow! I haven't seen that cover in a long while. It's become a hard record to find, even though the song "Witchi-tai-to" is being covered by more and more groups these days. When I was playing in Pepper's band (1973-77) I only knew this version of it (and the versions we performed). I'm wondering if anyone has the liner notes (there weren't many) from the album that could be posted. I'm writing my master's thesis on Jim Pepper and could really use that information. I've been in contact with the fellow who wrote the liner notes, but he doesn't have a copy of the record either! And yes, the "bootleg" was released by Jim's family.

Max said...

Hi Boztar,
I'll try and track down the notes for you. If you are doing graduate work you could try and secure a copy through interlibrary loan--there has to be a college library somewhere that still has a copy.

Anonymous said...

Very sorry to say, but "Witchi-Tai-To [chant 2]" is really missing on the file.
A wonderful record in a wonderful blog.
Best Whishes.


Max said...

Thanks for the heads-up concerning chant 2--I'll try to get a copy and fix this file eventually.

Anonymous said...

Apparently this album is to be released in CD format on August 28, 07'. I just pre-ordered it at They don't yet have a cover illustration but I hope the music is the real deal.

Anonymous said...

To Botzar:

I have the original LP. What exactly linear notes do you want?

From, Blondie

p.s. This site was found while looking for something else.

Merrill said...

I have two copies of the LP, one unopened in mint condition. I hope when the CD arrives that it has the tonal richness of the original.

Anonymous said...

Heh. I bought POW WOW not long after it came out and then in 1974 when I didn't have any money, I sold my stereo and all of my albums except 3 or 4 that I thought might be hard to replace. One of them was Dave Ray and another was Jim Pepper. I believe it's still in a box somewhere in my garage. Guess I'll have to dig around and find it.

Anonymous said...

I digitally transferred this a couple of years ago for my own private use. I may have shared a copy with a news grouper with no scruples.

I'd be somewhat surprised if someone didn't abuse my specific request not to go on line with this.

John Kilgore has a copy. He participated in making the single of Witchi Tai Toh which was number one in Baltimore in 1967. I managed to give a copy to Howard Dean when he was in Berkeley. Danny Weiss the engineer is an old friend, and I'm guessing he and Herbie Mann's estate have the rights to it along with Jim Pepper's widow and all the participants.

Frankly I'm sorry it got out if it's mine, because I'd have some remastering rights to it. I did it with a 24 bit Pro Tools rig if it is mine. You'll hear som vinyl scratches if it is. Dave Baker at Apostolic who used to do a lot of Zappa's work was doing a lot of archiving before he died. Forgive me Danny Weiss if I was the culprit. You know verbal contracts and how honorable people are once something is digitized. Makes Jim Pepper glad he's dead.

Max said...

Whoever made the copy I had posted labelled the files in the comment section "Original Lp - Embryo Records SD 731." If that was you, then this would have been your copy, but it doesn't matter too much anymore since I took the post down after the CD was released recently.

Gary said...

I bought this album when it first came out and really enjoyed playing it over the years. Alas my copy got destroyed by hurricane Wilma in October 06.

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Glenn said...

I anjoyed listening to Wichiti Tai To from the first time I heard it in the 70's and still today. Its a great song. Glenn.Nov,2011.