Witch Doctor

Chet Baker

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Witch Doctor Review

by Rick Anderson

Recorded live at the famous Lighthouse club in Hermosa Beach, California this LP finds Baker playing well, if not very consistently, and features a shifting group behind him that includes, on various tracks, saxophonists Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and Jimmy Giuffre; pianists Russ Freeman, and the underrated Claude Williamson. "The Lighthouse All-Stars" included Howard Rumsey on bass and drummers Max Roach and Shelly Manne. The sound quality is fair and the playing occasionally gets a little bit sloppy -- Baker's solo work on "Pirouette" is especially dodgy -- but there are some moments of real inspiration, including the band' s boppish uptempo reading of "Winter Wonderland" and Manne's inventive percussion on the Latin-flavored Cooper composition "Witch Doctor." There are better introductions to the Lighthouse sound, but this album is sure to please Chet Baker fans.

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