Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

491

Chet Baker: The Last Great Concert

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter Chet Baker had his ups and downs. The ups: his groundbreaking work with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's pianoless quartet in the early to mid-fifties, followed by dozens of great early recordings under his own name. The downs: his long term involvement with drugs, which took him out of the picture for a stretch in the sixties. He made a successful comeback in the seventies, and by the time the Last Great Concert: My Favorite Songs, Vol. 1 & 2 was recorded in Germany in 1988, two weeks before his death, he was playing in top form again.

You'd think that after years of drug abuse and an erratic career that featured as many down-in-the-gutter interludes as it did soaring-in-the-clouds highs, Baker would have been in artistic ruins by 1988, when he was 58 years old, with the appearance of a man who'd lived every one of those years hard. But The Last Great Concert lives up to its billing.

Baker's horn sound was remarkably similar to that of early Miles Davis, 'round about '57, '58—playing mostly in the middle register with a soft, round tone, with an affinity for mid-tempo tunes with pretty melodies. Indeed, the set opens with Davis's "All Blues" and goes on to cover more songs from the late fifties Davis songbook: "My Funny Valentine," "Summertime," and "In Your Own Sweet Way."

The concert itself was a hugely ambitious project, given Baker's reputation for unreliability. To back Baker: a big band and a full orchestra on stage at the same time, in addition to a jazz quartet. Baker didn't show up for rehearsals, and he didn't arrive at the concert hall until the afternoon of the show. In spite of that, he—and by turns the orchestra and big band and quintet—sounds marvelous. Baker fits his solos into the arrangements seamlessly. Particularly fine are the songs featuring the Radio Orchestra Hanover. The arrangements are superb, less lush and more subtle than the work on his Columbia album Chet Baker with Strings. Baker must have played and recorded "My Funny Valentine" a thousand times. The first version here, with the orchestra, is a nine-minute triumph, and though he has to strain for the high notes on his vocal, a slightly ravaged charm underlies his guileless, haunted delivery. And "Django," the classic John Lewis tune, has Baker backed by the NDR Big Band as he melts his horn into the delicate melody.

The set is a reissue with remastered sound. It must have been an enormous headache to record, but the sound quality is great. A must listen for Chet Baker fans.

Track Listing: Disc 1: All Blues, My Funny Valentine, Well You Needn't, Summertime, In Your Own Sweet Way, Django, I Fall in Love Too Easily. Dis 2: Look for the silver Lining, I Get Along Without You Very Well, Conception, there's a Small Hotel, Sippin' at Bells, Tenderly, My Funny Valentine (reprise)

Personnel: Chet Baker,—trumpet; Herb Geller—alto saxophone; Walter Norris—piano; John Schroeder—guitar; Lucas Lindholm—bass; Aage Taggaard—drums; Radio Orchestra Hannover; NDR Big Band

Title: The Last Great Concert | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Enja Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019
Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Mark Corroto
March 22, 2019
Read Arirang Fantasy Album Reviews
Arirang Fantasy
By John Sharpe
March 22, 2019
Read The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul Album Reviews
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
By Mike Jurkovic
March 22, 2019
Read Octopus Album Reviews
Octopus
By Jack Bowers
March 21, 2019
Read Pinch Point Album Reviews
Pinch Point
By Mark Corroto
March 21, 2019