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WOLFGANG LACKERSCHMID/CHET BAKER
Quintet Sessions 1979
Dot Time Legends DT 8018 44.52
There is certainly no shortage of releases and re-releases of Chet Baker recordings in various parts of Europe with a miscellany of groups, but Quintet Sessions 1979 is somewhat different. The clue is in the billing: Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker. This was vibes player Lackerschmid’s project and Chet, in fine form, is required to do more (or sometimes less) than reprise his customary bruised lyricism.
The remastered Dot Time release adds one alternative track and one rehearsal track to the original album on Lackerschmid’s Sandra label. As Lackerschmid tells it, he and Chet had already made a duo album and wished to include guitarist Larry Coryell on a trio album, then Chet’s agent insisted on adding a rhythm section, so Buster Williams and Tony Williams joined the group in Stuttgart for the recording.
Chet is at his most typical in a beautifully poised ballad treatment of Here’s that Rainy Day, but the trumpeter doesn’t dominate proceedings. Of six tracks on the original album, five are originals, one by each of the band members, except that Larry Coryell contributes two, Chet none. On the opener, Mr. Biko, composer Tony Williams sets the mood and, though Chet comes in with a nicely economical solo, the most striking solo voice is the ever-articulate Coryell. Coryell’s own compositions are central to the album, The Latin One faded out after the guitarist changed his mind, but still containing some lovely playing, and Rue Gregoire du Tour (represented also by a rehearsal) the most memorable of the originals and the one that gives most scope to Chet’s distinctive gifts.
This is a three-way encounter between guitarist Nigel Price, bassist Sandy Suchodolski and pianist Craig Milverton in a fast-moving programme of bebop staples and standard songs. They say they were inspired by the ‘great Peterson/Pass/Brown Trio’.
That may be so but what they have produced soon transcends any need for comparisons as they settle into creative overdrive. Each jousts with the others, Milverton lively in OP fashion, Price up for it all, combative as ever, as Suchodolski supports and solos on equal terms with the others.
Definitely a case of all for one and one for all, with quick-thinking evident on the title track, a neat piece by Fats Navarro. Here Milverton is expansive, using the locked-hands technique and building nicely, Price running with the ball, piano alongside and Suchodolski walking purposefully.
Gershwin’s The Man I Love is like a master class in interplay, each player sculpting his own pathway through these time-honoured harmonies. There are no fumbles here, no longueurs, just ten varied tracks marked by empathy, coloured by inspiration and showing an abiding desire to find new things to say.
All of which is exemplified on the exhilarating Superjet by Tadd Dameron, no quarter asked, none given, at the album’s end.