Chet Baker

Live in Rosenheimer

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Chet Baker has been unfairly criticized for his supposed inability to perform at high levels during the last years of his life. This excellent live set recorded just a few weeks before his death should dispel that myth once and for all. Billed as his last recording in a quartet, Baker plays with technical skill and feeling, his chops clearly in good shape. While his solos on this release are not up to those in earlier years, they are close enough to command this performance as a fine example of his latter day playing. His vocals do sound tired, though, although they are still infused with emotion. The fine trio backing him includes Nicola Stilo, whose flute work is a thorough joy, and Marc Abrams on bass, and the late Luca Flores on piano. Flores, in particular, shows a wonderfully vibrant side that enhances the group sound. The choice of tunes attractively includes some not always associated with Baker, including "Arborway," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Portrait in Black and White," and "Funk in a Deep Freeze." While there is, of course, lots of better Baker available, this one should please his fans and those who want to know what the fuss about him was all about.

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