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Chet Baker Live at Ronnie Scott

AAJ Staff By

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Though he tragically died 15 years ago, Chet Baker remains one of Jazz’s most beloved and misunderstood modern legends. In this new video from Rhino, Baker’s early autumn is captured in its mournful glory. No longer the teen idol playing with the likes of Parker and Mulligan, Baker now enlists the tenuous talents of Elvis Costello and a lazy Van Morrison to revive his younger fans. Though the English Elvis’s interview segments are thoughtful and provocative (the two worked together many times and came to be close friends), Costello’s singing, while smoother and more considered than Morrison’s (who gives meaning to the line from "Send In The Clowns" which bemoans "losing my timing this late in my career"). Even when he has nobody else to hide behind, Chet sits slack-jawed and tired, leaning on his golden horn for support and inspiration. However, when his moments come, Baker hits them with all the passion and a notable vestige of the fire which melted the hearts of young girls and fellow players during his earlier days.

The inclusion of a piano negates any attempt to recreate Baker’s legendary "West Coast" sound, but his renditions of such familiar favorites as "Just Friends," "My Ideal" and a modern and even funky take on "Love For Sale" take the British fans (and video viewers) back to Chet’s way of "cool school" Jazz. Overall, Chet Baker Live is an eye-opening and eye-dewing portrait of a near mythical performer who, though near his final curtain, still plays to the crowd as best he can.

Starring: Chet Baker, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison
Encoding: Region 1 (US and Canada only)
Format: Color, Dolby
Rated: NR
Studio: Rhino Home Video

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