Chet Baker

Cool Cat

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A pleasant set, distinguished for decent versions of Harold Danko's "Swift Shifting," Jon Burr's "Caravelle," and the Rodgers and Hart tune "Blue Moon," the trumpeter plays with a competent quartet that spurs him on. Although clearly weary, Baker's trumpet has some fire left, while his vocal articulation is below par. Still, the "feel" is always there, and even Baker on a less-than-perfect day is filled with joys. He solos on trumpet at length, at least as minimalist in style as ever. At this stage in his career, he remained capable of spine-tingling versions of "Round Midnight," with the trumpeter's laid-back breathy approach laying down perfectly placed notes. Pianist Danko is always worth hearing and drummer Ben Riley is his usual tasteful self. Bassist Jon Burr is a surprise, his big, juicy tone a pure pleasure. The tunes are just a tad different than usual, so Baker was forced to suspend his autopilot and dig in. Only partially satisfying, there are nonetheless enough worthwhile moments to recommend this one.

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