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Chet Baker: Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe

C. Michael Bailey By

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Chet Baker

Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe

OJC

1959/2013

The newest round of re-releases/remasters from the Concord Music Group celebrate the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records. Singer and trumpeter Chet Baker's Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe joins Mulligan Meets Monk (OJC/Riverside, 1957/2013) in the label's birthday celebration. Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe can easily be considered a sequel and one half of a creative diptych with Chet (Riverside, 1959). On top of the jazz world a mere five years previously, Baker was amid one of his several heroin-induced critical exiles during the one year contract with Riverside. The consummate dark American Romantic protagonist, Baker, nevertheless, produced compelling music confounding even his greatest critics.

The contemporary (at the time) songbook of Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe offer Baker a harmonic palette just outside of the trumpeter's comfort zone. There was little "standard" about the recital, songs chosen fromMy Fair Lady (1956), Brigadoon (1947), Gigi (1944) and Paint Your Wagon (1951). Baker was not allowed to take his usual path of least resistance on this recording and he met the challenge by playing above his ability.

Baker's tone is rich an even, melding well with the lyrically like- minded reeds wielded by baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams (recalling his earlier success with Gerry Mulligan), tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims and multi-instrumentalist Herbie Mann, who provides the bulk of ambiance for Baker in these settings. "I Could Have Danced All NIght" is a treat to hear Baker in something other than 4/4. The presence of Bill Evans deepens this ambiance.

This music seems best enjoyed late at night. It has aged and aged well, like fine cognac. Baker will always be that divisive, shadowy figure in jazz, but he is owed his due as an established element of jazz history and its richness and diversity.


Tracks: I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face; I Could Have Danced All Night; The Heather On the Hill; On the Street Where You Live; Almost Like Being in Love; Thank Heaven For the Little Girls; I Talk To the Tree; Show Me.

Personnel: Chet Baker: trumpet; Herbie Mann: flute, piccolo (2), alto flute (3, 7), tenor saxophone (5, 8); Zoot Sims: alto (8) and tenor saxophone; Pepper Adams; baritone saxophone; Bill Evans: piano (2, 6-8); Bob Corwin: piano; Earl May: bass; Clifford Jarvis: drums.

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