[JPL] Chet Baker/Chet In Chicago

Forrest Faubion forrestfaubion at gmail.com
Sat Oct 18 13:44:13 EDT 2008


  The new studio album from the late Chet Baker, in the can for 22 years, is
starting to get noticed.

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=30835

Article Courtesy AllAboutJazz.com <http://www.allaboutjazz.com/index.html>


*Chet Baker with the Bradley Young Trio: Chet in Chicago*


By C. Michael Bailey <http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/contrib.php?id=123>

[image: ""]Chet Baker with the Bradley Young Trio
*Chet in Chicago*
Enja Records <http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/"http://www.enjarecords.com/">
2008

What is the cultural value of trumpeter Chet Baker 20 years after his death
in Amsterdam? An interesting rift between biographers has emerged, the
schism running along the interface of Baker's substance abuse and the art he
generated in spite of it. James Gavin's *Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of
Chet Baker* <http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/"/php/article.php?id=1333">(Alfred
A. Knopf, 2002) was a searing look at the artist: musician, junky,
cultural icon.

Critics have challenged that Gavin failed to apply equal attention to
Baker's good attributes and music. These critics favor Jeroen de Valk's *Chet
Baker: His Life and Music* (Berkeley Hills Books, 2000) an excellent
biography to be sure, but while it it does recount Baker's chemical
dependency, it falls short of describing the tornado that was Chet Baker,
maiming lives and relationships in his wake. An accurate cultural view of
Baker is accomplished by the sum of these two books. One should not be read
without the other.

So, what of the music? Technically, Baker was no magician. Like Miles Davis,
Baker preferred the trumpet's middle register, blowing a mellow tone that
would define cool jazz's response to the white-hot virtuosity of bebop;
Baker could not light a fire like Dizzy Gillespie or Fats Navarro. Unlike
Davis, Baker was not a notable composer but, rather, was a superb stylist of
standards. Part of this success was his uniquely vibrato-less trumpet tone
and singing voice. These attributes of Baker's talent were so special that
they made him the de facto face of cool jazz. That effectively made Baker a
cultural icon. So we have the image and the reality. This is why Baker
requires a multiple-perspective consideration socially and culturally.

Saxophonist Charlie Parker once said that all he was trying to do was play
the "pretty notes." This was an effortless task for Baker, whose tone
possesses a wounded beauty, one steeped deeply in the American romantic
myth. His recordings are immediately accessible and completely digested, and
therefore, understandable. Add to this that Baker always recorded at a very
proficient level regardless of his physical condition. Enja records has been
documenting the chronological final recordings of Chet Baker, having release
the exceptional *The Last Great Concert*
<http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/">(Enja, 2004) and the
*The Legacy* series, of which the present *Chet in Chicago* is the fifth
volume to be released.

*Chet in Chicago* is a previously unreleased session with the trumpeter and
solid piano trio lead by Bradley Young. Recorded in May of 1986, the session
found Baker in a vocal and horn tone consistent with other recordings from
his late period. The repertoire is no surprise. Baker war horses "My Funny
Valentine," "Sippin' at Bell's,"; and "Solar" end the disc in that order.
Baker is never flashy or dissonant. He proves to be quite the traditionalist
when approaching a melody and then improvising on it. This is what makes
Baker so readily listenable where a true trend-setter like John Coltrane
presents music (particularly on his late-period Impulse! releases) too
challenging for pedestrian listening.

Baker proves a capable musical linguist able to translate the knotty bebop
of Parker's "Orinthology," the slippery hard bop of "Sippin' at Bells," and
the cool proto-modalism of "Solar." The trumpeter sounds relaxed and
confident, throwing off thoughtfully created melodies like Byron throwing
off rhymes. Baker and tenor saxophonist Ed Peterson prove a provocative pair
on their treatment of these songs. Bradley Young's leadership coupled with
his competent arranging and soloing make this a most enjoyable disc. As for
Baker, he will remain an enigma argued about and discussed as long as his
music continues to compel listeners' imaginations. We should be grateful
that Chet Baker's talent was as transparent as it remains.


Tracks: Old Devil Moon; It's You or No One; We'll Be Together Again;
Ornithology; Crazy Rhythm; My Funny Valentine; Sippin' At Bells; Solar.

Personnel: Chet Baker: vocals, trumpet; Ed Peterson: tenor saxophone;
Bradley Young: piano; Larry Gray: bass; Rusty Jones: drums.

Chet Baker Jazz Discography
Project<http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/"http://www.jazzdisco.org/chet-baker">


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