Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- With incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish, this is one of the best copies we have ever played - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Big, rich, smooth, open, natural, with plenty of note-like bass - what's not to like? This copy is killin' it
- Some of the best jazz guys of the day back up Chet on this one: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann and more
- "...the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album."
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This is a wonderful Chet Baker record that doesn't seem to be getting the respect it deserves in the wider jazz world. You may just like it every bit as much as the Chet album, and that is one helluva record to compare any album to, in our estimation about as good as it gets in most respects.
Finding good Chet Baker records is like finding hen's teeth these days. The albums he did for Pacific Jazz in the '50s can be wonderful but few have survived in audiophile playing condition. The Mariachi Brass albums are as awful as everyone says -- we know, we've played them too.
The Old Paradigm, Not Really a Paradigm At All
Both sides here are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We've never heard the record sound better than in our most recent shootout, and that's coming from someone who's been playing the album since it was first reissued in the '80s.
I used to sell these very records in the '90s -- we retailed them for ten bucks back then -- but we had no clue just how good they could be back in those days. We couldn't clean them right, or even play them right, and it would never have occurred to us to listen to a big pile of them one after another in order to pick out the best sounding copies.
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes back in the day
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
What We're Listening for on Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks for the horns and drums, not the smear and thickness so common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The trumpet isn't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. It's front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Roy Friedman in this case -- would have put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
The Players and Personnel
Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Zoot Sims Baritone Saxophone – Pepper Adams Bass – Earl May Drums – Clifford Jarvis Flute – Herbie Mann Piano – Bill Evans (tracks: A1, B2 to B4), Piano – Bob Corwin (tracks: A2 to A4, B1)
Producer – Orrin Keepnews Engineer – Roy Friedman
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face
I Could Have Danced All Night
The Heather On The Hill
On The Street Where You Live
Almost Like Being In Love
Thank Heaven For Little Girls
I Talk To The Trees
This is one of the last Chet Baker (trumpet) long players recorded in the States prior to the artist relocating to Europe in the early '60s. Likewise, the eight-tune collection was the final effort issued during his brief association with the Riverside Records imprint.
The project was undoubtedly spurred on by the overwhelming success of the Shelly Manne-led combo that interpreted titles taken from the score to My Fair Lady (1956). In addition to becoming an instant classic, Manne's LP was also among of the best-selling jazz platters of all time.
While Baker and crew may have gained their inspiration from Manne, these readings are comparatively understated. That said, the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album.
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