Chet Baker's personalized style was well served later in his life, and as his days in Europe were more conducive to his personal lifestyle, it also gave his music a chamber-like quality while maintaining modern mainstream values. Broken Wing is a combination of the two aspects of Baker's understated romanticism, the deep-seeded pain through his drug abuse and the humanity that lies underneath the rough-hewn surface of his tattered heart. This quartet combines the advanced melodic gifts of pianist Phil Markowitz, the great French bassist Jean-François Jenny-Clark, and lesser-known but tasteful drummer Jeff Brillinger, from studio sessions done in Paris in 1978. The tracks are extended because of solos, done mostly by Baker, split between standards and originals penned by the trumpeter, Richie Beirach, and Wayne Shorter. Baker sings on one cut, the lesser-known standard "Oh, You Crazy Moon," with an elusive quality that parallels the specious and ineffable quality of our late-night light in the sky. Fairly lengthy versions of "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and Baker's "Blue Gilles" allow the trumpeter and especially the marvelous Markowitz to stretch out and solo, as they have a streaming flow of improvisational ideas to release. Beirach's "Broken Wing" is particular poignant, deep, and modern, a pretty but sad ballad waltz where Baker's muted trumpet echoes Miles Davis in a forward-thinking style. The lesser-known piece written by Wayne Shorter, "Black Eyes" is in another arena especially for Baker -- marginally harmonic in a light bossa mood, spare, effortless, and compacted within its interplay from the four members. This is not so much an unusual recording from Baker in that his risk-taking is never pronounced or that his soul is completely bared. The document of a short-lived group, it's an interesting effort, well crafted and standing solidly with other items in his latter-period discography. Broken Wing has been reissued on CD from Inner City Records; it should also be noted that Universal has issued this recording with two alternate takes, comprising another quarter hour of music. Either item will suffice to satisfy Baker's fans.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos