Chet Baker

The Legacy, Vol. 4: Oh You Crazy Moon

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Chet Baker's 1978 European tour with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Scott Lee, and drummer Jeff Brillinger produced several recordings of varying quality. Live at Nick's is considered a classic, whereas Two a Day, recorded only one month later, is less consistently rewarding. The tapes on which Oh You Crazy Moon is based were recorded live in Stuttgart within the same few weeks as the Two a Day concerts, and are certainly worth hearing, if not quite essential. Baker's accompanists provide most of the truly transcendent musical moments; special credit is due to Markowitz, whose sensitive and careful piano playing is at all times perfectly suited to both Baker's voice and his trumpet, even when both are less than completely assured themselves. When Baker falters a bit at the beginning of "Beautiful Black Eyes," the rhythm section helps him along until he finds his feet; on a rollicking take of "Love for Sale," however, he seems to be having more fun. His de rigueur rendition of "My Funny Valentine," which ends the set, is the warmest and most confident piece on the album. Overall, this is an album his established fans will enjoy, but those looking for a good entry into his voluminous catalog will do best to start with the 1950s recordings that made him a star.

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