Quartet: Russ Freeman & Chet Baker brings together tracks that pianist Russ Freeman recorded with trumpeter Chet Baker during their time as bandmates in the 1950s. Freeman was a regularly gigging, bop-oriented player in Los Angeles when he joined forces with rising jazz star Baker in 1953. Baker, who had just parted ways with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan after making a splash with their legendary pianoless quartet, was looking for a musical director to help chart his own course. Freeman supplied Baker with a swinging, rhythmically kinetic if still laid-back harmonic bed over which to further his signature approach to jazz improvisation. While much of the group's output stuck to standards, part of what sets their partnership apart is the use of Freeman's own original compositions, many of which are included here. Melodic and hummable, yet built around surprising and inventive harmonic devices, Freeman's songs helped to both frame Baker's already potent lyricism and push him to an even more distinctive position on the jazz scene.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar