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Chet Baker – Broken Wing





Broken Wing

Oh You Crazy Moon

Black Eyes

Blue Gilles

How Deep is the Ocean

Chet Baker (trumpet, vocals): Phil Markowitz (piano): Jean François Jenny Clark (bass): Jeff Brillinger (drums)

Recorded Paris, December 1978


Scott Yanow’s biographical liner notes claim a 1979 recording date for this album but I’d go instead for the very end of the previous year: 28 December 1978. It found him in the congenial company of three musicians who worked well and quite extensively with him during this period. Together they forged a more-than-respectable and tight quartet quite capable of essaying either the standards for which Baker called or an original such as the one he wrote for the producer of this session, Gilles Gautherin.

The title track, written by Richard Beirach, is a slow and lyrical number with fine solos all round, thoughtfully underpinned by the artfully unshowy pianism of Phil Markowitz whose support of Baker is exemplary, not least when the trumpeter, as here, plays largely muted horn. The mute is off for Oh You Crazy Moon where his tone is lightly bluesy and his vocal is more than acceptable for this vintage. Medium tempo suited Baker and Black Eyes, Wayne Shorter’s evergreen, suits him especially well as he’s propelled tautly and tightly by the rhythm section. If there’s a criticism about the balance, it’s that the bass of Jean François Jenny Clark is somewhat over-recorded and it’s only that he’s such a fine player that one really notices, as he draws the ear time and time again. Then again there’s also the pianist’s sheer grace to admire as well.

Milesian fragility of tone is a feature of Blue Gilles, a slow to mid-tempo number where the pianist plays provocatively with the beat generating a deal of metrical unpredictability. The final track, How Deep is the Ocean, features rather more jaunty blues playing and some rolling pianistics in what proves an exemplary closer.

The surfeit of commercial, off-air and in-concert tapes that circulated of Baker during his European sojourn shouldn’t put one off investigating this 43-minute artefact. Note though that the Jazz in Paris series on Decca has already reissued this set including two alternative takes that weren’t on the LP. Inner City’s release is a straight LP reissue, and attractive it is too.

Jonathan Woolf

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