Although Chet Baker's recordings from late in his life varied dramatically in quality, this series of studio sessions is a high point in his career. After having his trumpet stolen, he plays beautifully with a borrowed flugelhorn throughout most of these songs with a powerful tone, especially on "Baby Breeze" and Hal Galper's intense "This Is The Thing." Baker delivers some strong vocals on the session led by pianist Bobby Scott, though Scott's huge hit "A Taste Of Honey" is marred somewhat by his odd honky tonk piano in the background. This is an unusual compilation worth acquiring.
- Ken Dryden (All Music Guide)
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I feel the same way about music now as I did ten years ago. My playing has changed somewhat in-the past few years - I'm playing a lot harder on the uptempo things. But on the ballads, I still try to be lyrical, not stretch out too far.
I've been using the flugelhorn for about eighteen months now; ever since my last trumpet was stolen from the kitchen at the Chat Qui Peche in Paris, where I was working. A friend of mine had a couple of trumpets and two flugelhorns, and he gave me one. It's an old French Selmer, but I like the sound of it very much. It's hard to play, but you get more out of it than you do from a trumpet, I think.
As far as the American jazz scene is concerned, there have been no drastic changes, as far as I can see. I don't think any- body is doing anything that wasn't being done some years ago, but the people who were doing it then - people like Larry Bangham, a piano player from the West Coast - couldn't get anywhere with it then. Larry played so beautifully, but nobody knew where he was at and what he was doing, and he could never find work. He couldn't play with anybody, and finally gave
up music altogether.
Of course, he was stretched out a lot further than Coltrane or Ornette Coleman. What they play seems to have a certain commercial value. But I don't think they'll ever get a gold record. It would be nice, but I just don't think that there are that many people who understand the musicians who are considered the avant-garde.
To me, reaching people is the most important thing. Otherwise, you just lock yourself in a room and play for yourself - that's all. But if you're going to work in a club and people are paying money to see and hear you, you should try to establish some kind of contact with them. We have some things in my library written by Bob Zieff which may not be "free" to an extreme degree, but have no chord changes to follow. There is a definite progression, but it's a very strange one. Still, after you listen for a while they seem logical after all.
I played one of Bob's tunes at a Randall's Island Jazz Festival some years ago, and several critics wrote that it was one of the few things played there that were really fresh and said something.
We play that sort of thing - but we don't just give the people a steady diet of that kind of tune. I'm still singing, of course - in fact, I'd like to branch out more in the vocal field. And we'll play a ballad, and play it prettily instead of going way out with it. What I try to do when playing in a club is to present different things, so that no matter who comes in, there'll be something for everybody, rather than just playing one kind of thing and telling people: If you don't like it, you can split!
This album contains a good cross-section of the music we play.
- Chet Baker