Monday, March 4, 2019


This track is attractive because the famously relaxed, mellow-toned trumpeter Chet Baker performs with Archie Shepp, an outstanding example of the experimental improvisation termed "free jazz." Here, we have a fascinating and exciting jam highlighting a brilliant practitioner of what we'd call a mellow, melodic style with an Avant Gard genius of the period. Shepp, of course, is fiery and unpredictable with what his solos will contain even in a context this comparatively conservative; I find it amazing to hear him in a chart-driven, swinging context and realize he can more than cut the mustard. He brings his own thing to it; his solos are his alone. Baker, to be sure, appears energized by Shepp's presence--his phrasing is sublime, and his tone remains hushed and frayed around the edges--there are few perfectly round notes in Baker's playing--but it is something else again when he double and triple times his riffs against the rhythm section. Baker's playing gets an unfair rap, I think. At his best, he could do much more than many give him credit for and, when alert and prepared, was in perfect control of all his gifts.

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