Chet Baker

Brussels 1964

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This radio broadcast catches Chet Baker between drug-related arrests in fairly good shape, with only a few apparent embouchure problems. While reminiscent of his '50s quartet work with pianist Russ Freeman, Brussels 1964 actually betrays an interesting -- if unsatisfying -- Miles Davis influence. Baker was always compared to Davis, but rarely copied his sound so directly and to his deficit as he does here. Whether it was an out of shape embouchure or a direct Davis influence, Baker has a flat, pithy tone that may disappoint fans familiar with the fuzzy warmth of his earlier recordings. The set begins with a very Davis-sounding "Bye Bye Blackbird." Again, employing many of Davis' stylistic two-note motifs, Baker and company curiously end the set with the Davis standard "So What." This is an anomalous choice that must be seen as an influence of the contemporary '60s jazz scene; Baker rarely played modal forms. The rest of the set is more along traditional Baker lines with "Isn't It Romantic" and a sanguine vocal version of "Time After Time." On the plus side, Baker is accompanied skillfully by some of his closest European sidemen: Jacgues Pelzer on alto saxophone and flute, Rene Utreger on piano, Luigi Trussardi on bass, and Franco Manzecchi on drums.

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