Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jan Michael Looking Wolf & Friends August 10

We are very happy to announce that Jan Michael Looking Wolf and Friends will headline the Flying Eagle Main Stage on Saturday, August 10, at 5:00 p.m., closing out the series of free concerts for Jim PepperFest 2013.

Jan Michael Looking Wolf has a lot of friends, as you can see in this live performance of his NAMA Record of the Year Live as One at the 2010 Native American Music Awards.

We are all related….

The action will then move indoors to the Parkrose HS Performing Arts Center Theater for the final evening concert of Jim PepperFest 2013:

Rise of The Free Spirits, pt 2
Historic reunion concert of The Free Spirits

Larry Coryell – Ra-Kalam Bob Moses
Chris Hills – Columbus Chip Baker
And Special Guests, including
Barry Bergstrom, tenor saxophone


John Trudell and Bad Dog

Friday, June 28, 2013

Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen to introduce Joy Harjo

“You must not forget me when I’m long gone, for I loved you so dearly….”
--Jim Pepper, Remembrance

Oregon’s Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen to speak opening night

Paulann Petersen

We are very happy to announce that Paulann Petersen, the State of Oregon’s Poet Laureate, has accepted our invitation to speak and will introduce Joy Harjo to the audience on opening night, the evening of Wednesday, August 7.

Paulann has long been an admirer of Joy Harjo’s poetry, and also has fond memories of her time as a student of Jim Pepper’s mother, Floy Pepper, at Richmond Grade School.

Following Paulann’s remarks there will be the long-awaited performance of:

Joy Harjo and the Arrow Dynamics Band
Featuring Larry Mitchell and Grayhawk Perkins

Find out more about Paulann Petersen here:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

John-Carlos Perea remembers Jim Pepper

I was first introduced to the music of Jim Pepper while studying for my undergraduate degree in Music at San Francisco State University. At that time I was listening to John Coltrane and also to pow-wow and Native American flute music. I knew there was a connection there but I did not understand how to make that connection in my playing and in my life.

I spoke to saxophonist Francis Wong at that time about my interests and he loaned me his copy of Pepper’s Dakota Song. That loan led me to research Pepper’s discography and eventually to Pepper’s performance of Coltrane’s “Naima” on Everything is Everything featuring Chris Hills. Hearing Pepper play “Naima” helped me finally make that connection between jazz and intertribal Native American music, a connection that set me on my own career as an electric bassist, cedar flutist, singer, and composer.

Pepper’s music sets a precedent in jazz and Native American music for the way he crossed back and forth between straight-ahead, fusion, avant garde, and many other styles. When I listen to Pepper’s playing and composing I also hear bravery and fearlessness. He understood the importance of “Witchi Tai To” as a peyote song but he also saw the importance of rearranging it into the new song that circulates globally today in so many different versions and styles. I feel grateful to have learned these lessons from Jim Pepper and I am happy that the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival will provide a space to remember Jim Pepper and to present new music inspired by him in the future.

John Betsch remembers Jim Pepper

“We met the summer of 1966 at a jam session in NYC with Chris Hills and a couple of others whose names escape me, and I was stunned by his sound and spirit. He was complaining about his chops and that special horn that I eventually took to Selmer for repairs, beginning their special relationship, and which is now in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

“We remet in 1981 at a festival in Austria when he was with Don Cherry and I was with Archie Shepp, Mal Waldron and Santi Debriano, who became key players in our lives later. We realized we were neighbors in Park Slope and thus began our close association, playing together in the Park and at the home of Gordon Lee where Jim was staying.

“When we both moved to Brooklyn our friendship continued to grow and at his and Caren's apartment I met Pura Fe among others. When I moved to Europe in 1985, invited by trombonist Marty Cook, Marty and I began bringing Jim over for tours a year or so afterward.

“Through the Munich associations with ENJA and TUTU Records things began to take shape with tours and recordings with first Marty's quartet with Jim's Portland friend Essiet Essiet, then with Ed Schuller on bass, and later the quartet with Ed and Mal Waldron, Santi and Kirk Lightsey, Claudine Francois with whom I was living near Paris and finally guitarist Bill Bickford.

“The Mal Waldron--Ed Schuller band literally made people cry: three different people came to me after gigs and said, "I was crying and didn't know why".

“My personal high water mark was a gig in a club near Vienna where Jim finally relocated: when we did the songs from the ‘Comin and Goin’ recording, everybody in the club sang all of the words. I will never forget the look on Jim's face when he turned around and looked at me with a ‘Do you believe this shit?!?!’ look on his face.

“When I developed a tumor on my right shoulder bone and Jim's lymphoma forced us into being on chemo at the same time, we decided to phone each other every Monday morning and talk about our experiences. We called each other "the brothers we never had" because of both having sisters as siblings and our musical and personal relationship remains the most special of my life.” – John Betsch, June 21, 2013, Paris, France.

Hear this great band here: Jim Pepper, Mal Waldron, Ed Schuller, John Betsch:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Remembering Jim Pepper...Floyd Red Crow Westerman…a note from David Amram

David Amram on the right

From 1956-1959 when I was a member of the great bassist Oscar Pettiford's big band, we would often go to his house after playing at Birdland and he would show me dances and sing songs he learned as a boy in Oklahoma.

And he talked about the great trombonist Big Chief Russell Moore, Jack Teagarden, pianist Mary Lou Williams  and other masters of jazz who like Oscar had Native American heritage and how the various nations comprising what was known by most people as all being  "American Indians", each had their own music, their own language and their own history. 

And Oscar always had pride in his Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, and felt that jazz and the community it created of players and listeners was an extension of the harmony articulated in the old saying "Respect, Love and Sharing-The Indian Way."

Back in the 50s, Oscar had two French horns, Julius Watkins and myself, as well as a harpist, and Oscar occasionally playing cello.

"Maybe this will hip the symphony cats to opening up their minds as well as their ears" he used to say, when we would talk about Jazz, Native American music  and all the sincere forms of music built to last that  were mostly ignored by the classical music establishment as well as the Pop and rock world.

"Someday, if our band hits it, we won't be going to them, they'll be coming to us."

Oscar passed away in 1960 and we never got the chance to work with any symphony orchestras, but in every symphony I ever worked with, the classical bass players all knew and revered Oscar Pettiford. 

When I met Jim Pepper in the 60s, he knew all about Oscar and shared the same interest in having the treasures of jazz and Native music receive the same respect awarded to the treasures of European classical music.

Jim and I crossed paths many times over the years, and musicians I worked with like Mal Waldron, Colin Wolcott and Don Cherry all loved his music and his spirit. We also appeared together in many benefit concerts for Native American rights during the years I played as the accompanist for Floyd Red Crow Westerman.

In the summer of 1990, Jim was the featured artist in a concert we did at Prospect Park, where I conducted the Brooklyn Philharmonic in an evening celebrating Native American music and jazz. Jim was his usual dynamic self and when the concert was over, Jim and his group played almost an hour more and the whole symphony stayed to listen.

He left us way too early, and in 1993, we did a memorial tribute to him, which included his mother reading Chief Seattle's famous speech, accompanied by the orchestra.

I wish I could be there to lend my support and am so happy that Jim is receiving this honor. 

I have been blessed to know and play with three of the people at this concert...Joy Harjo, Pura Fe and John Trudell, and I know how happy Jim would be to have them there as well as the original members of "The Free Spirits."

Jim opened up a lot of doors to take people to places that they had never been before, and we all have to work to keep his legacy alive and open more doors for young people to inspire them to live their lives creatively and make a contribution to the world while we are here, the way Jim did.

Thank you, Sean Aaron Cruz for your years of hard work to make this dream a reality, as well as to all the people in Portland for sharing the gift of Jim's creations with the world with the first Annual Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival.

David Amram
Putnam Valley, New York
June 10, 2013


David Amram (born November 17, 1930) is an American composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and author. As a classical composer and performer, his integration of jazz, folkloric and world music has led him to work with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Willie Nelson, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Langston Hughes, Charles Mingus, Pepper Adams, Leonard Bernstein, Sir James Galway, Tito Puente, Mary Lou Williams, Joseph Papp, Arthur Miller, Arturo Sandoval, Stan Getz, Pete Seeger, Elia Kazan, Christopher Plummer, Ingrid Bergman, Odetta, Lord Buckley, Dustin HoffmanSteve Allen, Machito, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Allen Ginsberg, Nina Simone, Gregory Corso, Bob Dylan, Steve Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, Thelonius Monk, Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, Levon Helm, Betty Carter and Jack Kerouac. In the early 1950s, he was encouraged to pursue his unique path by mentors Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, the New York Philharmonic's conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos, Miles Davis, Aaron Copland, Gunther Schuller, and visual artists Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning andFranz Kline. Today, as he has for over 50 years, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, bandleader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages. –Wikipedia


David Amram – Floyd Red Crow Westerman – Lakota Rabbit Dance Song

David Amram with Dizzy Gillespie and friends

David Amram, "Mama Don't Allow No Music", at Woody Guthrie Folk Festival


Find us on Facebook: Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival