Ake Johansson

Åke Johansson Trio with Chet Baker and Toots Thielemans

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Chet Baker was recorded so extensively in Europe that if you're a completist, you can expect to spend a fortune trying to acquire all of the European releases he is documented on. Recorded live at Sodra Teatern in Stockholm on February 26, 1985, this Swedish release finds the Åke Johansson Trio (which also includes bassist Kjell Jansson and drummer Rune Carlsson) joined by two visiting players, American Baker and Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans. Because Johansson is such a lyrical pianist, Baker and Thielemans were ideal choices for him. Melodic, subtle lyricism is the rule during this set, and the Scandinavian and American players enjoy a strong rapport on relaxed performances of Sam Rivers' "Beatrice," J.J. Johnson's "Lament" and the standard "All the Things You Are." Baker lays out on a sentimental version of "When I Fall in Love," while Thielemans is the one who lays out on Richie Beirach's "Broken Wing" and "My Foolish Heart." Baker's only vocal during the set comes on the latter, which underscores the fact that while he didn't have a fantastic range as a vocalist (especially after losing his teeth in the '60s), his singing could be incredibly soulful and expressive. On a few occasions, Baker's trumpeting becomes uncertain. But for the most part, the musicians are in good and sometimes excellent form on this CD.

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