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Fay Claassen: Two Portraits of Chet Baker

Fay Claassen

This is an astonishing two-disc album. The first is devoted to highlights from the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker pianoless quartet of the 1950s; the second focuses on Baker’s vocal repertoire after leaving the quartet. Dutch-born Claassen dominates both CDs.

On the first album, her wordless voice re-creates Baker’s trumpet lines flawlessly, thanks to the transcribing of baritone saxophonist and arranger Jan Menu, who also brings to life the Mulligan sound. In the spirit of “Music Minus One,” Claassen replaces Baker’s trumpet, revealing her amazing skill at phrasing, the most memorable being Mulligan’s “Line for Lions”. It gets better when “Lyons” is repeated: just trumpet (Claassen, of course) and baritone sax, very slow. It’s an eloquent study in counterpoint.

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