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Chet Baker: The Art of the Ballad

Baker’s lyrical trumpet is made for the ballad, and his readings of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” from the great Chet Baker in New York recording and “Stairway to the Stars” epitomize his sensuous nature. “Alone Together,” from the Riverside recording, Chet, features some outstanding personnel, with Pepper Adams on baritone (offering a contrast from the more familiar Mulligan collaborations), Herbie Mann on flute, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Connie Kay on drums. The embellishments by tenor master George Coleman add an exciting touch to “Stairway,” and Chet’s “Autumn in New York,” accompanied by a string orchestra, comes close to something you’d hear on an elevator, but that wistful, lyrical trumpet is too delicious not to appreciate. And his standard, “My Old Flame,” is lonesome, sad, and unadorned, yet speaks volumes.

Originally Published