VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
14 JUL 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI
One of six new titles released in Concord's Original Jazz Classics Remasters series, Chet Baker's In New York transplants the trumpeter's "West Coast cool" school into the urgent and explosive "East Coast" jazz scene. Baker, crackling in the scrapple of the Big Apple, teams with some of the best modern players in New York in 1958: Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Al Haig (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). All were well-known for their take no prisoners musicianship; Chambers and Jones were the rhythm section that drove the first legendary Miles Davis Quintet.
From their support, several moments on this set can sound like Davis' material from this same period. Baker rarely drove something as hard and heavy as "Hotel 49," strafed by the rampaging Griffin, for example, and the ensemble scales Davis' volcanic tune "Solar." Baker's first verse to "When Lights Are Low" sounds almost identical to Miles' first verse on Cookin' With The Miles Davis Quintet. Baker's tender, thoughtful quartet rendering of "Polka Dots & Moonbeams" sans Griffin sounds genuinely inspired, with Haig's piano solo rippling sheer beauty as resplendently blue as Red Garland.
Orrin Keepnews recorded In New York as one of the first releases in Baker's four-album deal with Riverside. The other titles released through Baker's Riverside affiliation include Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen To You ('58), also part of Concord's OJC Remaster series.