Chet Baker / Bill Evans - The Complete Legendary Sessions ***

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American Jazz Classics 99005 | Chet Baker (t), Herbie Mann (ts), Zoot Sims (as, ts), Pepper Adams (bar s), Kenny Burrell (g), Bill Evans, Bon Corwin (p), Paul Chambers, Earl May (b), Connie Kay, Philly Joe Jones and Clifford Jarvis (d). Rec. 30 December 1958, 18 January 1959 and 21/22 July 1959

Not quite what it seems to be! Towards the end of the 1950s, Chet Baker recorded a couple of septet albums for Riverside on which Bill Evans was booked to play piano. But so too were flautist Herbie Mann and feisty baritone sax man Pepper Adams. Passing visitors included guitarist Kenny Burrell on two tracks while Zoot Sims blew tenor on one track and alto on another two. The first album (Chet – The Lyrical Trumpet Of Chet Baker) is aptly named and offers a fine selection of standards while the ill-conceived follow up was devoted to the Broadway compositions of Lerner and Loewe and proved to be a lacklustre embarrassment. While the 10 standards on the ‘Lyrical’ part of this release are mostly commendable in their choice – ‘Alone Together’, ‘It Never Entered My Mind’, ‘Time On My Hands’ (and are available elsewhere without the extra baggage). It’s to be noted that bassist Paul Chambers authoritative gait greatly adds to the slightly haunting studio sound which gives the impression of the sound engineer striving to replicate the ambience of a Miles Davis date. In contrast, Mis’tah Chet offers little indication that he’s committed to the Lerner and Loewe project, leaving only Pepper Adams to prevent this from slipping into a coma. The star rating is for the ‘Lyrical’ tracks only. Roy Carr