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Larry Kart

The Chet Baker Prestige albums

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I recall approving responses here to these albums from time to time (to my regret I once bought all of them). IMO and in that of Baker's excellent biographer Jeroen de Valk, despite the presence of George Coleman, Kirk Lightsey, and Roy Brooks, Chet himself is in fairly torpid form on this marathon session, which was the work of the inimitable Richard Carpenter, non-composer of "Walkin." I mention this not to dis anyone who likes those albums but as a warning to those who might think that they preserve top-drawer Chet.

In De Valk's view, and I wholeheartedly agree, though Chet in his later European years often looked like death warmed over, his best recordings (on a selective basis) came from that period. For sterling examples, listen to "Broken Wing," "The Sesjun Radio Shows," "Chet in Tokyo," "The Last Great Concert," and to a several of the albums he recorded for Steeplechase -- "This Is Always," "Daybreak," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "The Touch of Your Lips," and "Diane."

 

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I'm currently listening to one of those Prestige sets (on pause for now) and am enjoying Coleman mostly. Will have to listen closely when I start back for Baker's form.

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34 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

In De Valk's view, and I wholeheartedly agree, though Chet in his later European years often looked like death warmed over, his best recordings (on a selective basis) came from that period. For sterling examples, listen to "Broken Wing," "The Sesjun Radio Shows," "Chet in Tokyo," "The Last Great Concert," and to a several of the albums he recorded for Steeplechase -- "This Is Always," "Daybreak," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "The Touch of Your Lips," and "Diane."

Larry, how do you rate Live in London (I or II) among these late recordings?  https://chetbaker.bandcamp.com/album/live-in-london

I thought they were solid, but I am not an expert on Chet Baker by any means.

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I can't remember the last time that I listened to a Chet Baker album for Chet Baker.

Come to think of it, I don't know that I've ever listened to it Chet Baker album for Chet Baker.

However, my memory is not what it once was, so maybe it did happen.

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I'm not a huge Chet Baker fan -- but I enjoy his music.  And I definitely agree with Larry on this.  Baker's late-in-the-game stuff sounds much more compelling to me too.

For what it's worth, I chose Broken Wing (Inner City/Gitanes) for inclusion in my 70s jazz survey.  

Two other Baker LPs that get pulled from the shelf relatively often: Peace (Enja) and Strollin' (Enja).  Both of these are from the 1980s.

 

Edited by HutchFan

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1 hour ago, ejp626 said:

Larry, how do you rate Live in London (I or II) among these late recordings?  https://chetbaker.bandcamp.com/album/live-in-london

I thought they were solid, but I am not an expert on Chet Baker by any means.

Sadly, I don't have that one, but De Valk gives it XXXX out of XXXXX, says it's  (the 1983 recording) "vastly superior to, and not to be confused with, the well-publizmed Ronnie Scott's gig from 1986. This is serious improvised music."

1 hour ago, JSngry said:

I can't remember the last time that I listened to a Chet Baker album for Chet Baker.

Come to think of it, I don't know that I've ever listened to it Chet Baker album for Chet Baker.

However, my memory is not what it once was, so maybe it did happen.

You should check out some of the latter-day recordings I mentioned in my post above.

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Your memory is better than mine!?

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I'm not a huge Baker guy, but this is my favorite of his.  It has a magic about it (as so many of the recordings in this Onkel Po's series do).  A 1979 quartet recording with pianist Phil Markowitz (who I barely was aware of), bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, and drummer Charlie Rice (neither of whom I had ever heard of).  Long cuts, Baker up front having a great night, and it just works beautifully.

At Onkel Po's Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1979 by Chet Baker Quartet (CD,  Mar-2017, 2 Discs, Jazzline Records) for sale online | eBay

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You guys have probably seen this before, but it's a recent discovery for me (well, I just saw the entire thing now as I had just seen a performance before - the interview section in the beginning was brand new for me).

Chet & Getz live in Sweden '83. Performance starts at about 7:33 if you want to skip the beginning which includes a Getz interview that gets a little awkward. Chet comes on at 26:30. 

 

 

Chet owns this IMO (and damn, dude has hands like an NFL QB). My favorite part is at 1:18 (hour and 18 minutes in). 

Edited by Dub Modal

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Your memory is better than mine!?

Try this:
 

Or this:
 

 

39 minutes ago, felser said:

I'm not a huge Baker guy, but this is my favorite of his.  It has a magic about it (as so many of the recordings in this Onkel Po's series do).  A 1979 quartet recording with pianist Phil Markowitz (who I barely was aware of), bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, and drummer Charlie Rice (neither of whom I had ever heard of).  Long cuts, Baker up front having a great night, and it just works beautifully.

At Onkel Po's Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1979 by Chet Baker Quartet (CD,  Mar-2017, 2 Discs, Jazzline Records) for sale online | eBay

Markowitz was a perfect accompanist for Chet.

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Markowitz played in the Dave Liebman's Group for 15 years or so.  He still plays with Lieb in his Saxophone Summit band.

Given the Liebman connection, it's not surprising that Markowitz sounds sorta similar to Richie Beirach.  (Beirach also preceded him in Baker's band.)  

Of course, Markowitz is not as good as Richie.  :P   But he's in the same ballpark style-wise.

 

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I head Chet Baker on several occasions from the late 70´s until the very last time in 1987 . 

I must admit I never really listened much to his stuff from the 50´s and 60´s . 

I like De Walk´s biography on Baker, and also another book written by a German author about baker. The Name of the author I think is Lothar Lewien. Very good book.

The last time I saw Chet was at the end of 1987, that might be only a few months before he died. 

After all those stories and the occasions when I had a ticked but Chet Baker was missing, I was surprised that on that very very last occasion, though he looked like death, he was very very articulate, was on time for the first set, played beautiful stuff and didn´t disappear during intermissions. He said "we´ll be back in 15 minutes" and that it was, he was back on time and the second set was also beautiful.

If I remember right, he had Nicola de Stilo on flute and guitar,  that pianist from Belgia he played often with, and Austrian bassist Hans Strasser (very very fine).....

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I went back to Lonely Star last night (I also have the other Prestige comp, On A Misty Night) and wouldn't say I heard torpid playing from Chet, but will say that I remained more interested in what Coleman was doing (and the rest of that rhythm section too). I don't have much with Lightsey on it, but damn he's good. I tend to enjoy most Chet I hear although I remain lukewarm on his vocals (just feels like folks let him indulge because of who he was). 

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I am in the minority as I like these Prestige Chet Baker albums. The music is straight ahead swinging bebop oriented which I especially enjoy. There are none of the "dreamy' non-swinging tunes I have heard on some of Chet's later albums. The sidemen are far more interesting for me than those on many of his European later sessions.

I have never been crazy about Phil Markowitz, but like Kirk Lightsey a lot. Kirk and George Coleman are terrific, and to my ears Roy Brooks was a very top level drummer during his somewhat brief career.

And one more thing that makes this an appealing album for me. Baker does not sing. On many Baker albums he sings the same half dozen tunes over and over.(My Funny Valentine and But Not For Me are two prime examples) I doubt that any other of Baker's many albums feature the tunes we hear on the Prestige sessions.

One episode I recall back when I lived in Detroit was when Kirk Lightey (also a Detroit resident at that time) walked into my favorite jazz record shop while I was hanging out there. It was sometime after those Chet Baker Prestige albums had been released on LP. I spoke to Kirk and told him how much I enjoyed his playing on those 3 albums. He was quite pleased. He had not done  much recording prior to the Baker albums.

 

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