Chet Baker & Art Pepper – Playboys – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

Side one is White Hot, side two nearly so, and both contain swingin’ West Coast Jazz from 1956. These 1983 reissues on Boplicity are dynamic and lively, perfectly suited to the energy of the music. The 1956 All Tube mono recording here has this Hot/Cool jazz sounding the way it should.

The 1983 version we are offering here says stereo on the label, but the sound is pure mono, a good reason not to trust labels! 

There are some surface issues with this copy. At the start of track three there are 22 very light ticks. On side two there are 6 very light ticks between tracks two and three.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

The horn sound can get a bit “hot” at times. Whether the original has that issue is hard to know as we have never seen an original copy that wasn’t beat. (Love the cover!)

Side One

Shootout winning – the horns stay mostly under control, which is key, but the richness and weight of the low end were unbeatable here.

The top extends beautifully. The presence and energy on this side are as good as any copy we played.

Side Two

Bigger than practically all the other copies we played, here the horns sound fuller and have more space to play into. Classic jazz sound that really works for this music.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

For Minors Only
Minor-Yours
Resonant Emotions
Tynan Tyme

Side Two

Picture Of Heath
For Miles And Miles
C.T.A.

AMG Review

These are the third sessions to feature the dynamic duo of Art Pepper (alto sax) and Chet Baker (trumpet). Their other two meetings had produced unequivocal successes.

The first was during a brief July 1956 session at the Forum Theater in L.A. Baker joined forces with Pepper’s sextet, ultimately netting material for the disc Route. Exactly three months to the day later, Pepper and Baker reconvened to record tracks for the Chet Baker Big Band album.

The quartet supporting Baker and Pepper on Playboys includes Curtis Counce (bass), Phil Urso (tenor sax), Carl Perkins (piano), and Larance Marable (drums). Baker and Pepper have an instinctual rapport that yields outstanding interplay. The harmony constant throughout the practically inseparable lines that Baker weaves with Pepper drives the bop throughout the slinky “For Minors Only.” The soloists take subtle cues directly off each other, with considerable contributions from Perkins, Counce, and Marable.

With the notorious track record both Baker and Pepper had regarding other decidedly less successful duets, it is unfortunate that more recordings do not exist that captured their special bond. These thoroughly enjoyable and often high-energy sides are perfect for bop connoisseurs as well as mainstream jazz listeners.