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Reviews: Chet Baker: Chet

Reviews: 5

Site review by Christine Tham January 7, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:
It's hard to believe this album was recorded in 1958, and captures Chet Baker in his heyday, when he was widely acclaimed as one of the leading lights of West Coast cool jazz, and his movie star looks meant that Hollywood was knocking on his door.

Primarily a collection on instrumental slow ballads, this album should appeal to those who like their jazz intimate, sultry and silky smooth, but also with a healthy dose of real jazz "bite."

The line up includes some famous jazz figures in their own right: Herbie Mann on flute, Kenny Burrell on guitar and Bill Evans on piano. Other musicians include Pepper Adams on sax, Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay/Philly Joe Jones on drums.

This is a Hybrid Stereo disc. The SA-CD stereo version ruthlessly reveals tape imperfections, with the hiss sounding a lot more defined than on the CD layer, and tape dropouts very apparent. The SA-CD version also handles the numerous instances of analog tape saturation quite faithfully, which on the CD layer resulted in a slight crackle reminiscent of clipping.

The overall sound is quite nice, with a nice presence and air around the instruments, no doubt helped by the natural dither provided by the tape hiss. The instruments sound just a touch recessed and too relaxed for my liking. Given that this is an early stereo recording, there's a lot of hard panning to the left and right so the soundstage is a bit artificial. The SA-CD stereo layer sounds a bit softer (in level as well as perceived dynamics) than the CD layer - some may prefer the CD layer's more chiselled sound but I think the SA-CD stereo version is truer.

Overall I would recommend this disc, mainly due to the content rather than the sound. I'm a big fan of Chet Baker, and must admit I find his looks extremely attractive, and his ballads always melt my heart.

Review by JW May 27, 2003 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Orrin Keepnews, the producer of this recording, says in the original liner notes that "Although this album is entirely devoted to explorations of the ballad mood, it includes considerable variety." and he is absolutely right on. From the opening bars you also notice this is one of the best Analogue Productions transfers to SACD. Gorgeous sound, the trumpet and baritone sax are positioned fairly close as if you had a second row seat at the Blue Note in New York. The instruments have real weight to them, especially the baritone sax, and they are positioned in their own space. The band and the soloist are 'there' right in front of you. Btw, for those of you who have the LP, the SACD does contains the track 'Early Morning Mood' that was added later for the CD reissue. (The track listing above fails to list it.)

Chet Baker has an intimate and mellow style. He played with Stan Getz and Charlie Parker and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. After that he soloed, lived in Europe, developed a drugs addiction, served time in jail and was generally in a mess. In 1973 he returned to the stage with Gerry Mulligan. In 1988 he died in Amsterdam, falling out of a hotel room window after taking cocaine and heroine. He has made a huge amount of records, his discography counts something around the 140. And that is not counting complilations and boxed sets.

This March 1959 recording features only jazz greats: Philly Joe Jones (dr), Pepper Adams (bsax), Bill Evans (p), Herbie Mann (flute), Kenny Burrell (g), Paul Chambers (b), and Connie Kay (d) - Kay rose to fame as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. This SACD is probably the ultimate ballad recording. Such is the beauty and the expressiveness of Chet Baker's trumpet and Pepper Adams' baritone sax. I find it almost impossible to do something else whilst this SACD is playing.

Full stars.


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Review by vonwegen November 20, 2004 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have to disagree with the previous review, but only because this SA-CD uses the original stereo mixdown tape instead of the 3-track master tapes.

Baker & co. sound terrific, special kudos to sax meister Pepper Adams, whose playing and tone are breathtaking in Super Audio & to Herbie Mann for his subtle flute lines---this on an instrument that is prone to chronic overplaying. Baker's flugelhorn tone is warm and intimate, perfect for the songs selected. The only thing is, in this modern, faster & louder world, the tempos of these tunes are too similar, so I have to dock it a star for not matching the variety of the classic of the time, Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis (which also features Bill Evans & Paul Chambers, who are great here too).

Now the bad news: the master stereo tape has been allowed to deteriorate markedly, with multiple drop-outs marring the beginnings & endings of several songs. Tape hiss is also quite high on most songs, the noteable exception being 'Tis Autumn, track 4. Analogue Productions normally does such a fine job with such late '50s-era recordings; therefore, it is a shame that they didn't take the time to review this source tape and decide to go back to the 3-track mother tape for a re-mix to eliminate all the flaws. It's still a 3 star recording because of the incredible warm and intimate saxophone tone, but it could have easily been a 5-star one with a little more time and care.

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Review by DeSelby June 1, 2005 (1 of 5 found this review helpful)
very good sound

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Review by analogue February 7, 2012 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of the earlier sacd's mastered by Doug Sax who did a good job with this sacd. I cannot comment as to whether secondary tape sources were used for this disc as some listeners have mentioned. I will say that by and large this disc is a very good listen and sports very good sound all around. Musically it easilly fits into the era from which it was created. By that I mean late 1950's classic jazz.

Chet Bakerdoes not seem to be mentioned nearly as much as other great trumpet masters and this is a pity because he could surely play.

It has also been said by historians that Mr. Baker was a herione addict and that during this particular recording session that he entered the studio completely in the throes of this drug. Listening to the first track (my favourite) one can hear that he plays a little under the sail, almost wobbly but it actually cememts the track as the other players work hard to compensate. A very powerful and melodic track with slow, powerful.....almost hypnotic trumpet playing and then followed by some heavy sax playing as well. The entire disc is a musical journey with not a weak track to be had.

Mr. Baker was an excellent trumpet player who loved ballads more than the more up tempo music. He could play both as this disc highlights. Sax is very good on this disc as well. Overall the sound is very good on this sacd and Mr. Sax is a great mastering tech. Low end, sound stage and realism are all rendered very vividly here.
I still believe that if this was released on Shm Sacd.....that it would surely better this older sacd. But as it stands now I think this sacd is a worthy purchase.

Great jazz album.

Highly reommended.

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