In January 1964, trumpeter Chet Baker was arrested at the Blue Note in Berlin. Earlier, at a local pharmacy, he had foolishly tried to fill prescriptions for Jetrium from two different doctors—a sign of abuse or hoarding with an intent to sell. More commonly known as dextromoramide, Jetrium was a powerful opioid analgesic about three times as potent as morphine. After his arrest, Baker was confined to a sanitarium for just over a month. Rather than jail him the way the Italians had years earlier, Baker, in May, was driven to the Frankfurt airport and deported to the U.S. After arriving at New York's JFK airport, he was met by federal narcotics agents who searched and interrogated him. As James Gavin writes in his biography of Baker, Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, one of the officers took pity on him and gave him a ride into Manhattan.
Baker's first recording after returning to the States was The Most Important Jazz Album of 1964-65, a moderately overstated album for the Colpix label that was panned by Pete Welding of Down Beat: It's difficult to get excited over the Baker crew's rewarming of old hash." Following his appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival that July with Stan Getz, Baker toured for the balance of the year.
Toward the end of the year, Baker committed to record an album for Limelight Records, a jazz division of Mercury headed by producer Jack Tracy. Recorded over three sessions in January and February 1965, Baby Breeze featured three different groups. The first date was by far the strongest and featured Chet Baker (flhrn), Frank Strozier (as,fl), Phil Urso (ts), Hal Galper (p), Michael Fleming (b) and Charlie Rice (d).
The five songs recorded by this group on January 14th were robust hard-bop pieces in the tradition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Three of the them were written by Galper (above)—Pamela's Passion, This Is the Thing and One With One. On these tracks, Baker's playing had more fire than usual, with Strozier and Urso providing fluid saxophones and Strozier adding a warm flue in places. But the standout on these tracks is Galper.
Galper's piano packed plenty of bop energy with modal touches that foreshadowed the abstract direction the keyboard would take in the fusion era to come. This is especially true on Halper's One With One, where his articulation and chord voicings are reminiscent of Herbie Hancock's moodiness during this period. The rest of Baby Breeze returns to Baker's comfort zone—romantic ballads—and features more laid-back groups. While the songs show off Baker's lyrical horn and plaintive vocals, the predictable material isn't nearly as interesting as the album's tracks with his sextet.
If you're in New York this Saturday, you can catch Hal Galper at Smalls with his quartet—alto saxophonist Nathan Bellott, bassist Dean Torrey and drummer David Frazier. The set starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go here.
Chet Baker died in 1988 and Phil Urso died in 2008.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Chet Baker's Baby Breeze (Limelight) here.
The album also is available at Spotify.
JazzWax clips: Here's Hal Galper's Pamela's Passion...
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.