Chet Baker

Californian Jam Sessions

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Trumpeter Chet Baker and tenor saxophonist Stan Getz are the featured artists on the aptly titled Californian Jam Sessions, which captures two of their earliest encounters in Los Angeles, at the Haig on June 12, 1953, and the Tiffany Club on August 17, 1953. These recordings have been issued in Europe and Japan ad infinitum in varying degrees of quality and completeness, and often sporting erroneous data. However, enthusiasts should note that West Coast Live is the only release derived from producer/engineer Dick Bock's own master reels. For two men who purportedly would rather not be in the same room at the same time, Baker and Getz are able to create some legitimately brilliant improvisation. For the Haig set, Getz had been brought in to co-lead a quartet with Baker for an incarcerated Gerry Mulligan. Musically, the results vacillate. There are moments of sheer inspiration, such as the musical cat and mouse demonstrated on "Strike Up the Band" and the straight-ahead driving bop lines as the two bandy on "Yardbird Suite" -- which includes tasty solos from Carson Smith (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums). There are likewise the brass entanglements that plague "The Way You Look Tonight" as well as the opening of "Winter Wonderland," which suffers from the "too many cooks" syndrome. The second and shorter set is taken from a recording session held at the Tiffany Club during the afternoon -- hence the lack of an audience response after each number. Baker's quartet at the time boasted Russ Freeman (piano) and Shelly Manne (drums), as well as Carson Smith (bass), who reprised his role at the heart of this quintet. All three tracks contain very little in the way of interaction between Baker and Getz, who essentially support the trio as opposed to their usual placement as co-leads.

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