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From Vancouver, Leif Arntzen is one of those guys who hasn't yet become a household name. He worked with Gil Evans. These days, he's gigging around New York City. Singing and playing trumpet, Arntzen pays homage to the memory of Chet Baker on Channeling Chet. It's a perfect copy. In the same manner that Baker would place his unpolished singing voice out front in a bare, naked spotlight for all the world to experience, Arntzen assumes the role. With only a quiet guitar-bass-drums trio backing him, the singer remains exposed throughout the session. Scatting and interpreting classic lyrics, Arntzen does Chet Baker quite well. As he sings, "I make a date for golf and you can bet your life it rains," Arntzen assumes Baker's persona. There have been other imitators. This session holds a deep appreciation for the things Baker accomplished.
Arntzen's trumpet work is even better. Fluid and agile, he's all over the songs in a light, bebop stance. Often working in unison with guitar, the trumpeter maintains accuracy while swinging with ease. The Harmon mute gets a thorough workout. Arntzen's open horn is used only for the opening of "Autumn Leaves." With a nice touch that has not been used often enough, Arntzen unifies his session by ending the final track with an outro that echoes the intro to his first track. In fact, the unifying thread winds deeper than that, since the quartet also begins "Silver Lining" and "Everything Happens To Me" with the same emotional theme. Soulful and passionate, Arntzen's homage has the same kind of magnetism for which we remember Chet Baker.
Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; My Funny Valentine; Happy Little Sunbeam; Silver Lining; I Can't Get Started; Do It the Hard Way; My Ideal; Playpen; Everything Happens To Me; Jumpin' Off a Clef; You're Driving Me Crazy; It Could Happen To You.
Personnel: Leif Arntzen- trumpet, vocals; Will Woodard- bass; Keith Ganz- guitar; Vito Leszcak- drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.