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Jim Pepper Sheet Music Collection

Pepper, Jim  Search this
Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn  Search this
Lee, Gordon, 1953-  Search this
0.5 Linear feet
Box 1
Kaw (Kansa)  Search this
Oklahoma Muskogee (Creek)  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sheet music
This collection includes a selection of handwritten and original sheet music written by Native jazz musician Jim Pepper (Kaw/Oklahoma Muskogee [Creek]).
Scope and Contents:
The Jim Pepper sheet music collection contains a selection of music composed and arranged by native American jazz musician Jim Pepper. This includes five out of the six compositions Jim Pepper was commissioned to create by the Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn through a grant awarded by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. These include jazz song "Reflections of Monk", orchestral arrangements "Remembrance" and "Four Winds" and dance scores "Dance #1" and "Feather Dance" all of which were written in 1990. Also included are handwritten copies two earlier compositions "Lakota Song", written in 1984, and a revised composition of "Witchi-Tai-To" from 1983. Additionally there is an undated orchestral arrangement of "Witchi-Tai-To" written by Pepper and orchestrated by Gordon Lee. Several copies of Pepper's business cards from his time touring Europe are also in this collection.
The music in this collection is arranged alphabetically by song title.
Biographical note:
Jim Pepper was born in 1941 to an Oklahoma Muskogee (Creek) mother and Kaw father in Salem, Oregon. Early influences from his grandfather Ralph Pepper and his father Gilbert led Jim Pepper to learn traditional Kaw music at a young age. However, being raised in Portland exposed Pepper to the jazz of musicians like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane leading to a fusion of jazz and traditional Native American music in Pepper's compositions. Pepper started playing saxophone at age 15 and moved to New York City in 1964 and played in the jazz rock group "Free Spirits." Pepper album, "Pepper's Pow-Wow" was produced in 1971 and included his first singing effort "Witchi-Tai-To" a peyote chant his grandfather used to sing. After spending several year in Alaska and San Francisco away from the music business, Pepper returned to New York City in 1982 and toured the United Stated and Europe with several groups including the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, The Paul Motian Quintet and the Don Cherry Ensemble. Pepper also served at the Music Director for "Night of the First Americans" a benefit concert at the Kennedy Center that included both Native American performers and celebrity entertainers. in 1990 Pepper was the recipient of the "Mary Flagler Charitable Trust" grant. Under this grant Pepper composed 2 jazz songs, 2 scores for Symphony Orchestra and 2 scores for dance in the idiom of Native American music. Pepper died in 1992 of lymphoma in Portland Oregon. Pepper was posthumously granted the Lifetime Musical Achievement Award by First Americans in the Arts in 1999, and in 2000 he was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame.
Related Materials Note:
Along with the original sheet music sent to the Archive Center, the National Museum of the American Indian received several objects from the Pepper family related to Jim Pepper's music career. These objects include Pepper's saxophone and can be found in NMAI's Modern and Contemporary Arts collection with object numbers 26/6293 through 26/6302. For more information on these objects please contact
The Jim Pepper sheet music collection was donated to NMAI in 2007 by Jim Pepper's mother, Floy Childers Pepper, his sister, Suzie Pepper Henry, and Suzie's son James Pepper Henry.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadcast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to
Jazz  Search this
Arrangement (Music)  Search this
Sheet music
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Jim Pepper Sheet Music Collection, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian

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