Pepper Adams was one of the all-time great baritonists, ranking at the top with Harry Carney, Serge Chaloff and Gerry Mulligan. But Mulligan overshadowed Adams throughout virtually his entire career, which is a little strange because Pepper had a much different sound (heavier and more intense) than the light-toned and playful Mulligan.Adams grew up in Rochester, NY, and when he was 16 he moved to Detroit where he became an important part of the very fertile local jazz scene. Other than a period in the military (1951-53), Adams was a major fixture in Detroit, playing with such up-and-coming musicians as Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Elvin Jones. Adams had opportunities to tour with Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson and Chet Baker and he moved to New York in 1958. In addition to recording both as a leader and a sideman, Adams played with Benny Goodman (1958-59) and Charles Mingus (off and on between 1959-63) and co-led a quintet with Donald Byrd (1958-62). He was a longtime member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (1965-78) and a major stylist up until his death.
— Scott Yanow, All-Music Guide