Chet Baker Quartet: In Paris

The trumpeter's 1955 sessions in France, notably with the progressive pianist Dick Twardzik, are reissued on 180g vinyl in a gatefold sleeve

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This double album covers the quartet material Chet Baker made for Barclay in Paris, 1955. The main interest is the group with Dick Twardzik, playing eight compositions by Bob Zieff, to whose innovative music the pianist had introduced Baker, and one by Twardzik himself, all recorded before his death on 21 October that year.

The Zieff tracks range from the uptempo Mid-Forte to the aptly named Sad Walk, a wistful wander down lonely streets. By contrast, Re-search is positively buoyant.

Baker plays with assurance on the sessions – he’d settled in with this new quartet for the European tour, performing in Holland, Germany, Switzerland and even at London’s Flamingo. Twardzik is in fine form, threads of atonality and abstraction creeping into his solos, his support for the trumpeter economic and germane. A brief celeste introduces his composition The Girl From Greenland, a slower variation of his Albuquerque Social Swim, showing the breadth of his creativity and invention which had been noticed by Boston student Cecil Taylor, referring to him as the “white pianist power” and regarded as an influence on Taylor’s post-bebop development.

Under contract, Baker returned to the studio a couple of days after Twardzik’s tragic death, turning to familiar standards, with bassist Jimmy Bond but drummer Nild-Bertil Dahlander replacing Pete Littman, who returned to New York. Gerard Gustin took Twardzik’s place and acquits himself reasonably enough, though missing the edge and originality.

The following month, three more tracks were recorded, Raymond Fol fitting in better stylistically and with closer rapport, after he had accompanied Baker (performing as a vocalist) in a brief visit to the Stoll Theatre, London and again to the Flamingo.

A fine reissue – on 180g vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with liner notes by Charles Boldt and a wonderful back-stage photo of Baker and Twardzik by Jean-Pierre Leloir.

Discography
(1) Rondette; Mid-Forte; Sad Walk; Re-Search; Just Duo; Piece Caprice; Pomp; The Girl From Greenland; Brash; (2) Summertime; You Go To My Head; Tenderly; Lover Man; There’s A Small Hotel; Autumn In New York; These Foolish Things; I’ll Remember April; (3) Alone Together; Exitus; Once In A While (100.52)
Baker (t) with (1) Dick Twardzik (p, celeste); Jimmy Bond (b); Peter Littman (d). 11 & 14 October 1955. (2) Gerard Gustin (p); Bond (b); Nild-Bertil Dahlander (d). 24 October 1955. (3) Raymond Fol (p); Benoit Quersin (b); Jean-Louis Viale (d). 28 November 1955. All in Paris.
New Continent 101009