Out of Nowhere

Chet Baker

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Out of Nowhere Review

by Michael G. Nastos

On Christmas Eve in 1982, Chet Baker and a local pick-up group recorded one night of an engagement at the Nine of Cups in Tulsa, OK. While never recognized by native Oklahomans (born in Yale) as a favorite son, and likely either somewhat reviled, or ignored in his status as a great jazz trumpeter, Baker nonetheless spent a holiday close to home, and this club date was documented. Five years away from dying under peculiar circumstances as depicted in the film Let's Get Lost, Baker's playing is clearly diminished or tired, though not to the point of being unintelligible or sloppy. Out of Nowhere -- as apropos a title for this CD as could be -- is not well recorded, thin and distant to be kind, unbalanced and unprofessionally reproduced to be accurate. It's a curious blend that has such then young musicians as guitarist Frank Brown up in the mix, and drummer Wade Robertson nearly muffled. Electric bassist Ron Adams, and his father, acoustic bassist Ted Adams, are buried, What is refreshing, and also curious, is that alto saxophonist Frank Adams (son of Ted, brother of Ron) is featured playing the lead melodies on several tracks, while Baker defers to him, yet another surprising aspect of this souvenir item. The fare consists of standards, all well known and actually played fairly well. By the fourth track, "Au Privave," the sound is better as Baker and Frank Adams lead out together on the bop flag waver, but notes are missed on this quick rendering. The sound stays manageable during "All the Things You Are," but it is played tentatively, inexcusable for this most covered cover. By "Out of Nowhere," a casual listen reveals the palpable imbalance. Highlights of the set include "Lady Be Good" with a fine lead from Frank Adams, clearly influenced by Charlie Parker and Phil Woods, but also admittedly Lee Konitz and Charlie Mariano. The altoist charges with aplomb through the venerable set closer "The Theme," where his bop tendencies can be best appreciated, though lacking bite. Baker sings one tune, "There Will Never Be Another You," but it sounds like he is in another room. This is strictly an historical document, for completists only, unfortunately flawed, and far from essential.

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