Plays The Best of Lerner & Loewe
All Music Guide
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In this album, one of the outstandingly lyrical jazz artists of today meets up with the foremost lyrical romanticists of the current musical stage. Chet Baker, whose horn at its best is unsurpassed in creating melodic and romantic sounds, here interprets eight of the best compositions of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, who during the past decade have treated the public to some wonderfully tuneful and richly romantic concoctions-most notably, of course, "My Fair Lady."
By virtue of the valid connection between Chet's style and the basic vein of Lerner and Loewe's music, this record, it seems to me, starts off well ahead of many other recent jazz LPs of a similar type. There has, of late, been quite a surge of albums based on the music of one Broadway show or another, sometimes for no apparent reason except that a device that has worked once is usually figured to be likely to succeed again. And even when the music really is good material for jazz interpretation (as the best show tunes so often are), it isn't always easy to fill out an entire album with just a single show to work with. Lerner and Loewe, however, make it a simple matter for you to expand your horizons a bit and draw suitably from several of their scores. For this relatively new writing team (their first collaboration, "Brigadoon," opened in 1947) has kept virtually all of their music to date in much the same idiom. Although there is much distance between the Paris of "Gigi," the London of "My Fair Lady," the American plains of "Paint Your Wagon" and the Scottish highlands of "Brigadoon," the songs from all these productions have in common enough of the same bright, colorful flair to make them fit well together.
Instrumentally, this LP follows the lead of Baker's recent highly successful album of ballads: Chet (RLP 12-299), in which a front line consisting only of trumpet, flute and baritone sax produced a remarkably big and rich sound. This time a fourth horn has been added to the Baker-Mann-Adams line, with Zoot Sims featured on both alto and tenor sax. And this time there is a much wider range of tempo than in the deliberately moody previous album. There are three delicate and haunting ballad treatments, of I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, The Heather on the Hill, and I Talk to the Trees. Thank Heaven for Little Girls swings gently, with Zoot's tenor obbligato providing the only horn backing for Chet. On the Street Where You Live gets into somewhat the vein of Baker's early collaborations with Gerry Mulligan, in an extended version with trumpet and baritone as the only horns and piano used sparingly. The full group hits driving tempos on Almost Like Being in Love and Show Me. And there is a good-natured, near-parody. Viennese-waltzish treatment of I Could Have Danced All Night.
That scoring, like all the other ensemble lines here. is the work of Herbie Mann, who has managed to provide a full sound and some off-beat flavoring without getting too deeply into unwarranted arranging complexities. For this remains primarily a relaxed and happy jazz date with much room for blowing-and with quite a few highly capable musicians on hand to take care of that blowing:
Chet Baker, perhaps the most celebrated trumpeter of the West Coast school of jazz, first burst into prominence with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in the early 1950s, and has since been a consistent poll-winner and successful leader of his own small groups. Zoot Sims, whose experience ranges from big bands (Benny Goodman, Woody Herman) to small, has long been recognized as one of the best of modern tenors and has recently also become a man to be reckoned with on alto. Herbie Mann, at or near the top on any list of jazz flutists, Pepper Adams, unquestionably the new star on baritone, and the brilliant and fast-rising piano star, Bill Evans, were all part of the personnel on Baker's all-ballad album (RLP 12-299). When Evans was unavailable for one session of this recording, his place was most ably filled by Bob Corwin. Bassist Earl May was for several years a vital part of the Billy Taylor Trio. Clifford Jarvis, Boston-born and still in his 'teens, makes his record debut here, and makes himself known as a drummer to be watched.