Chet Baker Quintet "Boppin' With the Chet Baker Quintet" (Prestige, US, 1968) NM/VG+

"In August 1965, some time after his return from Europe, Chet Baker recorded a marathon session of about 30 tracks for producer Richard Carpenter, one of jazz's shadier characters. Carpenter sold the rights to Prestige records, who released the material over the next two years on five albums. Baker claimed he never saw any money for any of it, which may or may not be true. It is, however, a known fact that Carpenter used to buy the rights for composer credits for all material recorded for him, so it's at least highly doubtful that most of the 30 tracks were really composed by him. Carpenter may have been a ruthless businessman, but the band he assembled for the session was picked well. It may at first seem an odd choice to pair the meek Baker with the "beast" George Coleman, but the pairing works, and the two complement each other really well. Kirk Lightsey was also an inspired choice as pianist; he serves as the perfect glue between Baker and Coleman. The titles of the five albums are obviously meant as parallels to Miles Davis' similarly titled albums for Prestige, and the mood is indeed similar (Baker always professed his admiration for Miles), even though Baker plays without mute and on flügelhorn throughout (because of dental problems). Boppin' was the last of the five albums to be released, in late 1967. Like the other four albums, it's a straight hard bop session, enjoyable without really being cutting edge. It's probably my favourite of the five, simply for the fact that this seems to be the densest album on which the musicians have the most drive. There is a kind of energy throughout this album that the other albums show only in certain moments (like the wonderful "Cherokee" on Groovin' With the Chet Baker Quintet). There is probably no need to buy all the five Prestige records, but if you get only one of them, then it should be Boppin'."

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