Chet Baker

The Route

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This 1989 CD issue compiles all known sides cut during a July 26, 1956, session led by Chet Baker (trumpet) and Art Pepper (alto sax). Keen-eyed enthusiasts will note that this particular date occurred during a remarkable week -- July 23 through July 31 -- of sessions held at the behest of Pacific Jazz label owner and session producer Dick Bock at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles. The recordings made during this week not only inform The Route, but three other long-players as well: Lets Get Lost (The Best of Chet Baker Sings), Chet Baker and Crew, and Chet Baker Quintet at the Forum Theatre. Likewise, these were the first sides cut by Baker since returning from his triumphant and extended stay in Europe. The Route compiles all 11 tracks by the sextet featuring Richie Kamuca (tenor sax), Pete Jolly (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and Stan Levey (drums) in support of Baker and Pepper. Bock had no immediate plans to use these recordings for any one album; that is to say he incorporated the tracks throughout various compilations released on Pacific Jazz. Three months later, however, Baker and Pepper did record with completely different personnel for the expressed purpose of issuing what would become known as Playboys and alternately Picture of Heath. Perhaps encouraged by the swinging interaction on Pepper's "Tynan Time" and "Minor Yours," both tracks were featured at this session as well as during the Picture of Heath collaboration. There are a few unexpected moments of sheer brilliance spread throughout, such as the Baker-penned title track, which contains supple and nicely contrasting solos from Kamuca and Vinnegar -- whose solid pendulum accuracy swings all through this collection. The Route is recommended for completists as well as curious consumers wishing to expand their knowledge of the light and airy rhythms that typify the cool West Coast jazz scene of the mid-'50s.

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