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Claudio Roditi; Klaus Ignatzek; Jean-Louis Rassinfosse: Light in the Dark

This trumpet/piano/bass session invites comparison to a certain type of Chet Baker record that appeared regularly in the late ’70s and ’80s. (The Touch of Your Lips on Steeplechase and Strollin’ on Enja are examples.) Baker preferred drummerless trios (although he was more likely to use a guitar than a piano). Like such Baker albums, Light in the Dark is a very European project and a version of chamber jazz that allows trumpeter Claudio Roditi to croon one number (although Baker would not have sung “Rapaz De Bem” in Portuguese). It even features the Belgian bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, who played with Baker for a decade.

But Light in the Dark is a more orderly, polished, professional and better-recorded project than those of Chet Baker’s last years. This trio clearly engaged in something virtually unknown to Baker’s ensembles: It rehearsed. Roditi, best known as a big-band power player, reveals a capacity for understatement here, and executes the intricate arrangements of the program with precision.

But while a Baker session, however quick-and-dirty, would have stumbled upon at least two or three moments of lyricism chilling in their pain and perfection, Light in the Dark, for all its competence, stays on the surface. Roditi or pianist Ignatzek wrote most of the tunes and, as composers, both are more clever than melodically memorable. Light in the Dark is like a finicky, fussy, non-swinging recital, and creates longing for the sloppy soul of a Chet Baker trio.

Originally Published