Thursday, November 18, 2021
Trumpet player Baker has a relaxed, lyrical, muted style superficially like Miles Davis's from his Kind of Blue. Indeed, a first impression makes you think the resemblance is vital, not a little. But Baker has a voice very much his own. On You Can't Go Home Again, he applies himself more tactfully and imaginatively than a dozen other flashier players could. The benefit of Baker's technique is the hushed tone, the muted sighs and near whimers of emotion that emerge from the trumpet's bell. Where others like Freddie Hubbard attempt and often succeed in creating beauty with reams of unapologetic bravado and virtuosity--even Hubbard's wonderful treatment of ballads resemble nothing less a gauntlet being thrown down to anyone else who thinks they can do better--Baker is the romantic who has a hard time coming up the right words to profess a feeling. But when he does, the build up, the pauses between his short phrases, his whispering rasp of a tone rises eventually to full sonnets of sound, phrase after phrase coaxing unintended nuance from a composer's melody. An easy sound that's difficult to come by. The music is lyrical and moody with heavy orchestration by Don Sebesky (whose career as CTI house arranger has converted many a talent into a white-faced, mass-market commodity). Still, Baker's pensive, searching emotionalism transcends the limits, as well as the efforts of an excellent group of sidemen. Drummer Tony Williams, saxist Michael Brecker, bassist Ron Carter, guitarist John Scofield, and guest musicians like Hubert laws, Paul Desmond, and Alphonso Johnson, charge ahead, relax the tempos, and pivot to new cross-rhythms and chord combinations that remain infectious throughout. Sparking moments abound particularly in the solos of Scofield, Desmond and, Brecker. The lyricism here is managed without the goo of sentimentality: Baker's power seems to come from a deeper source that can't be diminished.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
|You Can't Go Home Again-- Chet Baker|
Monday, January 23, 2012
This track is attractive because the famously relaxed trumpeter Chet Baker is performing with Archie Shepp, who is an outstanding example of the experimental improvisation termed “free jazz”. We have here a fascinating and exciting jam highlighting a brilliant practitioner of a what we'd call a mellow, melodic style with an Avant Gard genius of the period. Shepp, of course, is fiery and unpredictable with what his solos will contain even in a context this comparatively conservative; I find it amazing to hear him in a chart-driven, swinging context and realizing he can be more than cut the mustard. He brings his own thing to it, his solos are his alone. Baker, to be sure, appears energized by Shepp's presence. His phrasing remains hushed and frayed around the edges--there are few perfectly round notes in Baker's playing--but it is something else again when he double and triple times his riffs against the rhythm section. Baker's playing gets an unfair rap, I think. At his best he could do much more than many give him credit for and, when alert and prepared, was in perfect control of all his gifts.