The Jazz Legacy of Jim Pepper: An American Original

Jim Pepper’s Saxophone Donated to National Museum of the American Indian

with 2 comments

Posted August 2008.

These photos were taken in April 2007, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, when Pepper’s silver Selmer saxophone (reportedly found for him by Pharoah Sanders, and desperately longed for by the Selmer company for their mseum), his beaded baseball cap (with eagle feather), his turtle rattle, some music sheets written by him, some old albums, and his saxophone cases were donated “in perpetuity” to the Museum — thanks in good part to the efforts of his sister Suzie Pepper Henry and his nephew Jim Pepper Henry, who happened to be an assistant director at the museum at the time (I could be wrong on Jim’s title — so please correct me if so).

The “Remembrance Band” played to two standing-room-only crowds that day — including Pepper bandmates, Caren Knight-Pepper (vocals), Gordon Lee (piano), Ed Schuller (bass), Bill Bickford (electric guitar), and Steve Johns (drums). Standing in for Pepper on tenor and soprano sax, and finishing off the final song of the final set with Pepper’s own sax, was Dennis Springer, who was said by Pepper’s mother, Floy, to embody Jim’s spirit like no other sax player she knew of. Also performing were Pepper compatriots, the drumming circle Yellowhammer.

Enjoy!

Jim Pepper's sax and cases, beaded cap, turtle rattle and other items on display

Jim Pepper’s sax and cases, beaded cap, turtle rattle and other items on display

Up close and personal with the sources of the music's power
Up close and personal with the sources of the music’s power

Noone was sure how it would sound after almost 20 years of non-use. It sounded beautiful!

Noone was sure how it would sound after almost 20 years of non-use. It sounded beautiful!

Caren and Jim's Spirit

Caren and Jim’s Spirit

MORE TO COME — VISIT OFTEN!!

[All above photos taken and copyright (c) 2007, by Bill Siegel.

Please contact me if you’d like copies (siegel713@gmail.com)

Written by Bill Siegel

August 2, 2008 at 11:31 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Dennis Springer is a great jazz musician and long-time friend. For our wedding day, Dennis Springer played sax, Linda Hornbuckle sang, and Joe Heineman played keyboards. We had the best music ever. Dennis stopped in to visit us at our restaurant, Terrace Kitchen, in Lake Oswego, OR. while home visiting family and friends, and told us the story of him playing at the NMAI. My husband, Fernando Divina, and I were on the Design and Development Team for the NMAI, designing The Mitisitam Cafe and all of its original recipes and menus. Close friends come full circle. Thanks for writing about Dennis. His original music is glorious.

    Marlene Divina

    August 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

  2. Great photos of a seminal moment in American Indian history. I listened to Jim Pepper and later Karen Knight in the 70’s in Portland and became close to Dennis Springer. We, Marlene Divina – Chippewa, Cree, Assiniboine – and I worked as Design and Development Team members for the NMAI where we conceptualized the food servery. We are thrilled that Jim Pepper shall be immortalized and his story accessible to the public. His story will unquestionably influence those with interest in overcoming life’s obstacles. Fernando Divina 8-20-11 Lake Oswego, OR

    Fernando Divina

    August 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: