Chet Baker: Signature

Some trumpet gems and uncomfortable vocals emerge from a lo-fi 1985 festival recording with Philip Catherine and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse

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This album has its moments, good and bad. It sounds as though it was recorded on a commercial recorder as there is distortion on some tracks. The bass is under recorded with Rassinfosse sounding as though he was a mile away from the others.

The music was taped at the Foggia Jazz Festival in Italy where, it seems, everything was done on a casual basis. There were no specific locations for music with musicians setting up where and however they could. Baker’s trio played out in the open.

The opening track, Hank Mobley’s Funk In Deep Freeze, has a good trumpet solo from Baker, his laid-back, soft-focus lines full of invention. Next up is My Foolish Heart, with Baker crooning hesitantly into the microphone. His phrasing is clumsy, and his notes strained. He sounds distinctly uncomfortable, and it is unfortunate that his colleagues did not dissuade him from singing. Baker’s voice, once soft and melodic, is heard here sounding harsh and hesitant. Much the same comments apply to But Not For Me, which features some untidy scatting and a less than gripping vocal. He does play a haunting trumpet solo next and should, surely, have stuck to instrumentals on this evening.

Side two of the disc is much better. Chet’s trumpet is in his usual unique, gently inventive style. His long improvisation here is full of fresh melody and well worked-out invention. Catherine’s guitar lines are nervously propulsive, and he works well in an accompanying role. Rossinfosse’s bass lines are well chosen, when you can hear them.

Remastering from the original tapes has not helped much in what is basically a poor recording. As always there are plenty of Baker trumpet solos that have his personal stamp but overall, this programme lacks the editing that a studio producer would surely have given it.

Discography
Funk In Deep Freeze; My Foolish Heart; But Not For Me (26.37) – How Deep Is The Ocean; Love For Sale (23.12) 
Baker (t); Philip Catherine (elg); Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (b). Italy, 14 September 1985.
Red Records 123341-1