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Enrico Pieranunzi & Bert Joris: Chet Remembered

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Enrico Pieranunzi & Bert Joris: Chet Remembered
Chet Remembered is the second disc the pianist Enrico Pieranunzi has recorded with a big band in as many years. Both are what used to be called "concept albums." 2022's offering, Blues & Bach (Challenge), was made with the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, and celebrated the compositions of John Lewis, mainly those Lewis recorded with the Modern Jazz Quartet. It is a lovely disc.

Lovely, too, is Chet Remembered, made with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, conducted by trumpeter Bert Joris, on which Pieranunzi salutes Chet Baker, with whom he toured, and less frequently recorded, on and off between 1979 and Baker's passing in 1988.

Most of the nine tunes, all composed by Pieranunzi and arranged by Joris, are among those Pieranunzi recorded with, and in some cases composed for, Baker. The four earliest of these come from the first album Pieranunzi made with Baker, Soft Journey (Edipan, 1980): "Soft Journey," "Fairy Flowers," "Night Bird" (which became a staple of Baker's live performances) and "Brown Cat Dance." The latest is "Echoes," which Pieranunzi and Baker recorded for Silence (Soul Note, 1989), an album which was released under Charlie Haden's name.

In his liner notes, Pieranunzi says that playing with Baker "caused an enormous change in my playing." This is not opportunistic b.s. wheeled out to promote Chet Remembered. In 2005, in an interview with Matthew Ruddick for Ruddick's monumental Funny Valentine: The Story Of Chet Baker (Melrose Books, 2012), Pieranunzi went into some detail about which things, precisely, he had learnt from Baker. Economy of notes and an emphasis on melody were, unsurprisingly, chief among them.

Both those qualities are to the fore in Pieranunzi's playing on Chet Remembered, and they are also key to the success of Joris' arrangements These are mellifluous without ever being saccharine or rococo. They are also rhythmically vigorous, a facet of Baker's playing which is often passed over. The album's highlight is, perhaps, "Soft Journey." In the notes, Pieranunzi says he was so taken with it when Baker and he recorded it that he took the trouble to transcribe Baker's solo a few hours after the session. Here, Joris' arrangement harmonises and orchestrates that solo and uses it as the springboard for his own. (At the time of writing, there is no YouTube clip of the Pieranunzi/Joris recording of "Soft Journey," so below is a YouTube of the Baker/Pieranunzi version).

Finally, mention of solos prompts acknowledgement of others on the album. Most are by Pieranunzi and Joris, and bear clear traces of Baker's style, reworked in personal ways. There are also some memorable choruses from alto saxophonist Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn and bassist Hans Glawischnig, whose pretty pizzicato outing on "Chet" is particularly delightful.

Track Listing

From E. To C.; Lost And Found; Chet; Soft Journey; Fairy Flowers; Night Bird; Echoes; Brown Cat Dance; The Real You.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn: alto saxophone, flute; Katharina Brien: alto saxophone, clarinet; Denis Gabel: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Steffen Weber: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Reiner Heute: baritone saxophone; Frank Wellert: trumpet, flugelhorn; Thomas Vogel: trumpet, flugelhorn; Martin Auer: trumpet, flugelhorn; Axel Schlosser: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gunter Bollman: trombone; Felix Fromm: trombone; Christian Jaksjo: trombone, valve trombone; Robert Hedemann: bass trombone.

Album information

Title: Chet Remembered | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Challenge Records


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