CHET: ballads by CHET BAKER
Chet Baker (tp) Herbie Mann (fl) Pepper Adams (bs) Bill Evans (p) Kenny Burrell (g A-3,B-2) Paul Chambers (b) Connie Kay (drs) Philly Joe Jones (drs A-4, B-4,5)
Alone Together (6:46) (Dietz – Schwartz)
How High the Moon (3:31) (Hamilton – Lewis)
It Never Entered My Mind (4:36) (Rodges & Hart)
‘Tis Autumn (5:12) (Henry Nemo)
If You Could See Me Now (5:11) (Tadd Dameron)
September Song (3:00) (Anderson –Weill)
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To (4:38) (Cole Porter)
Time on My Hands (4:27) (Adamson, Gordon – Youmans)
You and the Night and the Music (3:50) (Dietz – Schwartz)
The trumpet of CHET BAKER is, above all, a lyrical instrument. Every musicians, no matter how many different kinds of things he can do, has one area that is essentially home, where he functions most effectively and seems most comfortable. For one man this favored area of operation may be the blues, for another it many be dazzling up-tempo fireworks. For Chet, home is clearly the world of ballads – of good, sound standards that lend themselves to a leisurely tempo and to rich, melodic, and often moody interpretation. In such an environment, the romantic sound and conception that Chet possesses seems to flourish extraordinarily well. And it is this kind of jazz that is to be heard throughout this album.
As many a musician and many a listener has discovered, the ability to play ballads involves much more than just being able to play slowly. To keep it pretty and at the same time to keep it jazz calls for a way of feeling and a way of thinking that not every jazz musician can master. But ballads properly played can be a most beautiful and moving musical experience, serving to refute two very pervasive and false cliches: the one that claims that jazz is all loud and hard and fast; and the corollary one that would have you believe that if it isn’t loud and hard and fast it isn’t properly jazz.
Although this album is entirely devoted to explorations of the ballad mood, it includes considerable variety. Approach, instrumentation, even tempo does not remain constant here. A number like How High the Moon, for example, even though obviously included here to demonstrate that it can recapture its original status as a superior ballad despite years of high-speed workouts, is not taken too mournfully. And Time On MY Hands, as played by Baker and the rhythm section, is almost spritely. On two other numbers, Chet departs from the LP’s general sextet pattern to work with the talented and expressive guitarist KENNY BURRELL, with just bass and drum accompaniment. On several numbers – among them the rich treatment of Alone Together that first sets the mood here – the unusual front-line combination of flute, trumpet and baritone creates a lush and unique ensemble sound.
Chet is assisted by a hand-picked group of associates that includes some of the very best jazz talent now operating in the East. HERBIE MANN is a consistently poll-winning flutist, whose warm tones fit smoothly into this setting; he also contributed the ensemble scoring for several of the selections. PEPPER ADAMS, one of three emigrants from the jazz-prolific city of Detroit taking part in these proceedings (Burrell and Paul Chambers are the others), has toured with Chet’s quintet. Commanding a particularly full rich sound, he is unquestionably the outstanding new baritone player of the past few years. Pianist BILL EVANS, who has worked with Miles Davis and Tony Scott, is just beginning to attract real public attention, but has for some time been the object of extreme praise from fellow musicians, particularly for a truly beautiful ballad touch and conception such as he demonstrates here. PAUL CHAMBERS, a Miles Davis mainstay for quite some time and a most highly regarded young bassist, has been heard on many other Riverside LPs, often teamed with the formidable PHILLY JOE JONES, who has also been featured with Miles. For CONNIE KAY, who is on drums on most of these selections, this is his Riverside debut; he is of course best known for his tasteful contributions as part of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Working in a vein designed to showcase his remarkable lyrical talents, and aided by so impressive a roster of jazz artists, Chet definitely rises to the occasion. Very clearly, one of the main reasons why Baker has been a major ‘name’ ever since he first reached prominence with the original Gerry Mulligan Quartet in the early ‘50s lies in his mastery of just such material as these nine ballads. And it is equally clear that performers are equally comfortable within this framework. Actually, this was one of those rather rare recording efforts that settle into the proper groove right form the start. Alone together, a strikingly effective example of the musical color and tone that all concerned were looking for from the time the idea for this album was first conceived, was the first selection recorded – and was accomplished in only one ‘take.’ And things stayed pretty much in that groove throughout. There are a good many individual high spots reached by Chet and by the other solo voices; but above all there is an overall cohesiveness and beauty that makes this, I think, an unusually pleasurable and warm listening experience.
Chet also appears on Riverside on –
CHET BAKER in New York; with Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-281)
It Could Happen to You: CHET BAKER Sings (RLP 12-278)
CHET BAKER Introduces JOHNNY PACE (RLP 12-292)
Several of the other jazz artists featured here can be heard on their own Riverside albums, including –
Sultry Serenade: HERBIE MANN (RLP 12-234)
Great Ideas of Western Mann: HERBIE MANN’s Californians (RLP 12-245)
BILL EVANS: New Jazz Conceptions (RLP 12-223)
Everybody Digs BILL EVANS (RLP 12-291)
10-to-4 at the 5-Spot: PEPPER ADAMS Quintet; with Donald Byrd (RLP 12-265)
Blues for Dracula: PHILLY JOE JONES Sextet; with Nat Adderley, Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-282)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering
(Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON – KEN BRAREN – HARRIS LEWINE
Back-liner photos by LAWRENCE SHUSTAK
Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.