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Chet Baker: Love for Sale

A reissue company with its act together would have provided the context for this recording: Whatever happened to the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club, and what was Chet Baker doing in Montreal in 1978? What was the story with this particular Baker quintet, with reedist Roger Rosenberg, pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Jon Burr and drummer Jeff Brillinger? What is this material’s prior release history?

Instead, in Craig Morrison’s liner notes for Love For Sale, we get redundancies about Baker’s profligate life. And was there really nothing that could be done for the hideous sound? (Baker sometimes sounds like he is playing a kazoo.)

Still, Love for Sale provides an unexpurgated glimpse into the musical reality of Chet Baker’s last years, a life on the move from club to club across North America and Europe. The music was often loose and ragged. But there is a solo on “Snowbound” that is the kind of Baker moment you wait for. He makes a private offering, unrelated to the frenetic, nasal soprano-saxophone solo and the hard, fast piano solo that precede and follow it. It is fragile threads of luminous melody, discovered by a series of existential choices so slow they sometimes almost stop.

Originally Published