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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

The Story Behind Chet Baker - Strollin' (1986) [Remastered 2008]: A Live Album Recorded in Germany



Chet Baker - Strollin' (1986) [Remastered 2008]: A Review




If you are a fan of jazz, you have probably heard of Chet Baker, one of the most influential and iconic trumpet players and singers of the 20th century. His style was cool, smooth, and lyrical, and his voice was soft, tender, and melancholic. He recorded dozens of albums throughout his career, but one of his last and most underrated ones is Strollin', released in 1986 and remastered in 2008. In this article, we will review this album and explain why it is a masterpiece of jazz.




Chet Baker - Strollin' (1986) [Remastered 2008].rarbfdcm



Introduction




Who was Chet Baker?




Chet Baker was born in Oklahoma in 1929 and started playing trumpet at an early age. He joined the army in 1946 and played in various bands until he met Charlie Parker in 1951 and joined his quintet. He soon became famous for his cool jazz style, influenced by Miles Davis and Gerry Mulligan. He also started singing, and his rendition of "My Funny Valentine" became a hit. He formed his own quartet with pianist Russ Freeman and recorded several albums for Pacific Jazz Records.


However, his career was also marked by drug addiction, legal troubles, and personal problems. He was arrested several times for heroin possession and spent time in jail and rehab. He also lost his teeth in a fight in 1966, which affected his playing and singing. He moved to Europe in the 1970s and continued to perform and record, but his health deteriorated due to his drug abuse. He died in 1988 in Amsterdam, falling from a hotel window.


What is Strollin'?




Strollin' is an album by Chet Baker recorded live at the Subway Jazz Club in Cologne, Germany, on April 24th, 1985. It features five tracks: four standards and one original composition by Baker. The album showcases Baker's mature style, combining his trademark coolness with a warm and expressive tone. He is accompanied by two excellent musicians: guitarist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse.


The album was originally released in 1986 by Enja Records, a German label specialized in jazz. It was remastered and reissued in 2008 with improved sound quality and liner notes by jazz critic Ted Gioia. The album received positive reviews from critics and fans alike, who praised Baker's performance and the intimate atmosphere of the club.


Why is this album worth listening to?




Strollin' is a gem of jazz that deserves more attention and appreciation. It is one of the last recordings of Chet Baker before his death, and it captures his essence as a musician and a person. It is also a rare example of a trio format with guitar and bass, without drums or piano, which creates a unique sound and mood. The album is full of emotion, beauty, and grace, as well as some surprises and challenges.


If you want to discover or rediscover Chet Baker's music, Strollin' is a perfect choice. It will take you on a journey through jazz history, from the swing era to the modern era, from the blues to the ballads, from the classics to the originals. It will also show you why Chet Baker was one of the greatest jazz artists of all time.


Track by track analysis




Sad Walk




The album opens with "Sad Walk", a composition by Chet Baker that he first recorded in 1955 with pianist Dick Twardzik. The title reflects the mood of the piece: a slow tempo, a minor key, and a melancholic melody. Baker plays the trumpet with a muted sound, creating a soft and intimate tone. He improvises with elegance and simplicity, using long notes and subtle variations. Catherine plays chords and single notes behind him, adding color and harmony. Rassinfosse plays a walking bass line that anchors the rhythm.


The song lasts almost ten minutes, but it never gets boring or repetitive. It builds up gradually, with each musician taking turns to solo or interact with each other. The song ends with a coda that repeats the main theme with some changes.


Strollin'




The second track is "Strollin'", a tune by Horace Silver that he first recorded in 1959 with his quintet. The title suggests a cheerful and relaxed mood: a medium tempo, a major key, and a catchy melody. Baker plays the trumpet with an open sound, creating a bright and lively tone. He improvises with swing and flair, using short phrases and rhythmic accents. Catherine plays single notes and octaves behind him, adding contrast and energy. Rassinfosse plays a walking bass line that supports the groove.


The song lasts about nine minutes, but it never gets dull or predictable. It changes constantly, with each musician taking turns to solo or interact with each other. The song ends with a tag that repeats the last part of the theme.


Love For Sale




The third track is "Love For Sale", a standard by Cole Porter that he first wrote for the musical The New Yorkers in 1930. The lyrics tell the story of a prostitute who offers her services to different clients. The music reflects the theme: a fast tempo, a minor key, and a complex melody. Baker sings the lyrics with his distinctive voice: soft, husky and sweet. He follows the original melody closely, but adds some variations and embellishments. Catherine plays chords and single notes behind him, adding spice and tension. Rassinfosse plays a walking bass line that drives the tempo.


The song lasts about 13 minutes, but it never gets tedious or monotonous. It evolves constantly, with each musician taking turns to solo or interact with each other. The song ends with a reprise of the theme and a final chord.


Leaving




The fourth track is "Leaving", another composition by Chet Baker that he first recorded in 1980 with pianist Michel Graillier. The title suggests a sad and nostalgic mood: a slow tempo, a minor key, and a beautiful melody. Baker plays the trumpet with a flugelhorn sound, creating a warm and mellow tone. He improvises with emotion and sensitivity, using long notes and lyrical phrases. Catherine plays chords and single notes behind him, adding depth and harmony. Rassinfosse plays a walking bass line that fills the space.


The song lasts about 15 minutes, but it never gets boring or repetitive. It builds up gradually, with each musician taking turns to solo or interact with each other. The song ends with a coda that repeats the main theme with some changes.


But Not For Me




The fifth and final track is "But Not For Me", a standard by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin that they first wrote for the musical Girl Crazy in 1930. The lyrics tell the story of a person who is unlucky in love and has given up on romance. The music reflects the theme: a medium-fast tempo, a major key, and a catchy melody. Baker sings the lyrics with his distinctive voice: soft, husky, and sweet. He follows the original melody closely, but adds some variations and embellishments. Catherine plays single notes and octaves behind him, adding swing and energy. Rassinfosse plays a walking bass line that supports the groove.


The song lasts about seven minutes, but it never gets dull or predictable. It changes constantly, with each musician taking turns to solo or interact with each other. The song ends with a tag that repeats the last part of the theme.


Conclusion




Summary of the main points




In conclusion, Strollin' is an album by Chet Baker that showcases his mature style and his mastery of jazz. It is one of his last and most underrated recordings, and it deserves more attention and appreciation. It features five tracks: four standards and one original composition by Baker. It also features two excellent musicians: guitarist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse.


The album is full of emotion, beauty, and grace, as well as some surprises and challenges. It takes the listener on a journey through jazz history, from the swing era to the modern era, from the blues to the ballads, from the classics to the originals. It also shows why Chet Baker was one of the greatest jazz artists of all time.


Recommendations for further listening




If you enjoyed Strollin', you might also like some other albums by Chet Baker or related artists. Here are some suggestions:



  • Chet Baker Sings (1956): This is the album that made Chet Baker famous as a singer. It features his classic rendition of "My Funny Valentine" and other standards.



  • You Can't Go Home Again (1977): This is another album by Chet Baker recorded live at various venues in Europe. It features his version of "Love For Sale" that appears on Strollin', as well as other tunes.



  • Crystal Bells (1983): This is an album by Philip Catherine featuring Chet Baker on trumpet and vocals. It showcases their musical chemistry and their mutual admiration.



  • Chet's Choice (1985): This is an album by Chet Baker Trio featuring Philip Catherine on guitar and Hein Van De Geyn on bass. It was recorded live at Nick Vollebregt's Jazz Café in Laren, Netherlands.



  • Chet In Paris (1955-1956): This is a series of albums by Chet Baker recorded during his first European tour. It features some of his best performances with various musicians.



FAQs




When and where was Strollin' recorded?




Strollin' was recorded live at the Subway Jazz Club in Cologne, Germany, on April 24th, 1985.


Who played with Chet Baker on this album?




Chet Baker played trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals on this album. He was accompanied by Philip Catherine on guitar and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse on bass.


What are some other albums by Chet Baker?




Chet Baker recorded dozens of albums throughout his career, both as a leader and as a sideman. Some of his most famous ones are Chet Baker Sings (1956), Chet (1959), Chet Baker In New York (1958), Chet Baker In Milan (1959), Chet Is Back! (1962), She Was Too Good To Me (1974), You Can't Go Home Again (1977), Crystal Bells (1983), Chet's Choice (1985), My Favourite Songs - The Last Great Concert (1988).


How did Chet Baker die?




Chet Baker died on May 13th, 1988 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He fell from a hotel window under mysterious circumstances. Some believe it was an accident, others suspect foul play or suicide.


Where can I buy or stream Strollin'?




You can buy or stream Strollin' on various platforms such as Discogs, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Music, Apple Music, etc.



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