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Chet Baker's Quiet Sound Endures

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Chet Baker
Strollin'
Enja
2008


Chet Baker
Broken Wing
Inner City
2009


John Proulx
Baker's Dozen
MAXJAZZ
2009


As iconic as any jazz musician, Chet Baker's gentle, understated playing and crooning ran counterpoint to his tumultuous life. Two late life recordings capture an introspective legend, voice ravaged by time, playing thoughtful and resonant solos. The third disc is a loving tribute showcasing the melancholic joie de vivre that launched his career in the '50s.

Strollin' was recorded at the Jazz Festival Munster in Germany just three years before Baker's death in 1988. It features Philip Catherine prominently on guitar and without a drummer, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (bass) makes up the rhythm section. Catherine's fast and crisp playing is in stark contrast to Baker's lingering fuzzy lilts. The highlight on this remastered disc is Hank Mobley's "Funk in a Deep Freeze," a previously unreleased track with a deep bebop groove. It should also be noted that the album is instrumental save for the last track, "But Not For Me," done in an uncharacteristically upbeat style with scatting.

Broken Wing, an earlier release from 1979, features a more traditional piano, bass and drums backing for Baker, whose voice is airy and hauntingly mellow on "Oh, You Crazy Moon" and absent from the other four tracks; his trumpet fills the space especially well on the title track. {{Jean-Fran
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