The recording quality of every single one of these releases on this Danish-? label, is excellent. Though some of them are even recorded “live”, they all are recorded with incredible warmth and clarity–a kind of immediate presence, that allows the trumpeter’s phrasing to be heard down to the breathy vibrato of each wonderful note.
Most of the songs are down tempo songs–ballads which allow the two performers plenty of time to stretch out on solos; however, as much as I was worried that an entire album with just a trumpeter and a pianist would be somewhat too sparse to do justice to the songs, I was very pleasantly surprised at the arrangements of the songs…Paul Bley’s piano playing is very sympathetic to Mr. Baker’s warm, and simple, trumpet work. Oddly enough, I found Bley to be as interesting if not more so, in some parts, than the horn playing. No matter that the songs are–some of them–quite long; both performers keep the arrangements moving ahead, and I just found myself listening to and enjoying the music, rather than feeling a need to nitpick about this or that choice of phrasing, or, more generally, the choice to record with just a Trumpet and a Piano.
There is a tremendous amount of emotion in Bley’s piano, which complements the aging Trumpeter’s somewhat limited, but incredibly graceful melodies. One can hear the effects of Baker’s tumultuous and troubled life in his playing–from the entry of the first note on “If I should Lose You”, throughout the entire cd. The sadness that comes through on each of the ballads hangs on each note, but it doesn’t seem to indulge itself to the point of overdoing it. I found myself wanting to listen to the entire cd, each time enjoying it as much, if not more so than the previous time. It just seems the two artists have enough to say, and have found the right way to say it here. Bley’s piano shines, and Mr. Baker’s trumpet is warm and poignant, as are many of his late in life releases.
Overall, this is quite an enjoyable duo, and in my humble opinion, one of the better Steeplechase recordings that Chet Baker did, from the late 70’s until his death in 1988. pilopo pilopo