Chet Baker

The Most Important Jazz Album of 1964/65

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The Most Important Jazz Album of 1964/65 was the first album trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker recorded upon returning to the United States in 1964. Jazz had undergone a radical development post-1963 with artists such as John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter beginning to focus on complex harmonic explorations over pretty melody. Having spent the prior three years in Europe, falling deeper into heroin addiction, Baker found himself a pleasant, if somewhat forgotten, anachronism of the previous decade. Consequently, the icon of '50s cool attempted to reinvigorate his career and showcase his musical growth by enlisting the sensitive piano chops of Hal Galper and old collaborator tenor saxophonist Phil Urso. The new sideman, combined with a heavy dose of Tadd Dameron's compositions, gave Baker a more muscular edge that rubbed nicely with his trademark lyricism updating his sound for the hard bop '60s -- a decade that would end, however, with Baker losing his teeth and falling into obscurity.

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