Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In review--On Baker's Street

Joe Barbieri 
Chet Lives! 
Le Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi

For anyone familiar with the history of American jazz will have heard the name Chet Baker.  I had heard the name, but had never officially listened to any of Baker’s iconic songs.  A trumpeter and vocalist, Baker focused on lyrical jazz which he sung with sedated, sultry voice with hints of Brazilian bossa nova.  Sadly, Baker’s story is mostly tragic with his mysterious death in the Netherlands and a drug addiction that plagued him for most of his career.  You would never have guessed this from the brightness of his voice and horn or from the songs he sung.

Italian crooner-guitarist Joe Barbieri along with his trio (Antonio Fresa on piano and Luca Aquino on trumpet and flugel horn), render the spirit of the late Baker by revisiting the songs Baker performed in Italy on Chet Lives! Oddly, with some of the songs delving into bossa nova, I’m reminded of the Brazilian musician Celso Fonseca, who also possesses one of those sexy laidback voices.  While listening to the repertoire on this album which includes Gershwin’s But Not for Me, Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye, and the titular track, I’m also reminded of Miles Davis’ Cool Jazz period, especially on the track, Almost blue.

The songs flow at an easy pace, and while there are no send-ups here (livelier songs), the arrangements sound pleasing to the ear, with crystal clear trumpet, and flute on But Not for Me as well as, guest vocals by Márcio Faraco on the same track and Stacey Kent on I Fall in Love too Easily.  Anyone seeking a slow jazz groove that sets a warm and comforting atmosphere will enjoy Chet Lives(!).

Chet Lives project:

Chet Baker:

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