Chet Baker [Fresh Sound]

Chet Baker / Chet Baker Quartet

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Chet Baker [Fresh Sound] Review

by Thom Jurek

This CD comes from a tape of a 1980 Chet Baker quartet gig in New Haven, Connecticut. The source is more than likely from the board, and the tape's origin seems to have come from drummer Art Frank's personal collection: he played many dates with Baker in his latter years (he also wrote the liner notes here). The other personnel on the date were bassist Michael Formanek and pianist Drew Salperto. The program is made up of three Miles Davis tunes -- "Milestones," "Tune Up," and "Four" -- and three nuggets from the canon in "Stella by Starlight," "Just Friends," and "Blue "N" Boogie." Baker's playing, both in the melodies and in his solos, is very inspired, though his tone is basically shot. His finest moments are in his middle-register soloing on "Four," where he fires the entire band up; and in his loping solo on "Milestones." Particularly interesting is Formanek's playing, which is innovative, sharp, physical, and in the pocket. The sound quality here is somewhat dodgy, but everything can be heard; the CD is worth the purchase price because Baker was so erratic in the last decade of his life; nights like this where he was just dead on and wanting to burn were few and far between.

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