Stan Getz / Chet Baker

Quintessence, Vol. 2

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It's regrettable that Stan Getz and Chet Baker disliked one another personally, for they had so much in common musically. Both came out of jazz's Cool School, had delightful tones, favored subtlety and restraint, and both could be incredibly lyrical -- no jazzman has played ballads more beautifully than Getz or Baker. Recorded live in Norway in 1983 but not released commercially until 2000, Quintessence, Vol. 2 offers a rare chance to hear them co-leading a quintet. One wishes that Getz and Baker (who are joined by pianist Jim McNeely, bassist George Mraz and drummer Victor Lewis) had been able to put their personal differences aside and play together more often, for the two are a highly appealing combination on standards that range from "It's You or No One" and "I'll Remember April" to Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count," Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons," and Sonny Rollins' "Airegin." Getz and Baker are both swinging, yet they swing in a consistently melodic fashion and remind us that while they had impressive chops, they didn't feel the need to beat listeners over the head with them. Like Getz, Baker used his instrument to tell meaningful stories instead of trying to dazzle you with his technique. This CD is rewarding as well as historically important. One can't help but wonder if it would have been even stronger if Getz and Baker had been able to get along outside of a musical setting.

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