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Jazz Icons: Chet Baker Live in '64 and '79

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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(Sep 26, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jazz Icons: Chet Baker features two concerts by the foremost interpreter of the West Coast school of cool jazz. Filmed in Europe 15 years apart, these two shows seen together provide an overview of BakerÂ’s illustrious career. The fi rst show is a haunting 1964 performance in a Belgian TV studio with a quartet including long-time sidemen saxophonist Jacques Pelzer and French pianist Rene Urtreger. Songs include the Miles Davis classic, Â"So What,Â" and the jazz standard Â"Time After TimeÂ" (a very rare rendition featuring ChetÂ’s Â"CoolÂ" vocal style.) The soulful 1979 set from Norway, with a trio featuring vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid, highlights the growth and maturity of this troubled but inspiring artist.

Physically, the contrast between the two Chet Bakers on view in Live in '64 and '79, another entry in the superb Jazz Icons series, is striking. The earlier concert, recorded (in black & white) in Belgium with a Belgian saxophonist, a French pianist, and an Italian rhythm section, all of them excellent players, finds the trumpeter in pretty decent shape, considering the fact that his drug addiction had already landed him in jail or rehab well over ten times. But 15 years later, when he appeared in Norway (again backed by some fine European players), his hard life had taken a visible toll; not yet 50, he appears considerably older, his matinee idol looks of the 1950s now a fading memory. And yet, amazingly, Baker's playing in both concerts is top-notch, and the Norwegian show is arguably the better of the two. His instrument for the '64 gig is the flugelhorn, and its mellower tone is ideal for Baker's cool, lyrical style. Flashy virtuosity wasn't his thing, even on an uptempo version of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" or a take on "So What" that's faster than Miles Davis' classic original (the Belgian show also contains the only vocal number on the DVD, with Baker's voice, famously vulnerable and high-pitched, well suited to "Time After Time"). The '79 concert, filmed in color, matches Baker with a drum-less ensemble featuring piano, vibraphone, and bass; the repertoire is more adventurous, including a too-short take on John Coltrane's "Blue Train," a terrific duet with vibist Wolfgang Lackerschmid on the latter's "Five Years Ago," and an extended, beautifully arranged version of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale." As always with the Jazz Icons series, the sound and visuals are remarkably clean and clear, the liner notes are illuminating, and the accompanying photos and other material are beautifully presented. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Chet Baker
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Jazz Icons
  • DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H9HWQO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,300 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 25, 2006
Format: DVD
This DVD features two short concerts by star-crossed jazz legend, trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker, each set bookending a rough phase in his career. Baker, who was a pioneer and leading exponent of the West Coast "cool" jazz style, led a troubled life, made worse by chronic drug addiction and run-ins with the law... In the early 1960s, he was living in Europe (partly to avoid legal hassles in the U.S., partly because the Europeans adored him...) In 1966, after returning to the States, a down-and-out Baker was severely beaten on the streets of San Francisco, and had to stop performing for several years, slowly making a comeback in the 1970s and '80s.

The first set on this disc comes from a 1964 concert in Belgium where Baker is backed by saxophonist Jacques Pelzer, with whom he seems to have a lot of sympathetic musical inclinations -- despite his drug habit, Baker seems quite robust and still has his hunky youthful good look (he was a babe) and clearly towers over his European sidemen in terms of musical prowess. That imbalance continues in the later set, a stunning set from 1979, with German vibrophonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid and a loose-limbed, longhaired European ensemble that settles into Chet's mellow vibe with greater ease than their '60s counterparts did in the first half of the DVD. Baker looks totally trashed, but also battled-hardened and tough as leather -- a near-skeletal Nick Nolte comes to mind -- and at least a good dozen years older than his actual age. But, oh! does he sound sweet!
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Format: DVD
This DVD contains two Chet Baker shows: the first being a Belgian TV broadcast from 1964 and the second a pro-shot from his 1979 appearance at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival. The 1964 TV show is my favorite of the two. In it he is joined by longtime musical associates Jacques Pelzer and Rene Urtreger (whose piano work is awesome) in a quintet format. The video and audio quality is quite simply mind-blowing considering the age of the source material. And Chet's performance (on flugelhorn, no less) is outstanding. His take on Miles Davis' "So What" is pure magic. This set is what "cool jazz" was all about. The 1979 show (in outstanding colour) is excellent and finds him in a quartet consisting of bass, piano and vibraphone. The standout from this set is the lengthy take on Cole Porter's "Love For Sale", which should dispel any thoughts you might have that he didn't have "it" anymore by this point in his life. The packaging is lovely and Rob Bowman's liner notes are excellent. Chet on DVD doesn't get any better than this.

I have been watching this DVD series on a 46" Sony Bravia LCD flat screen (sound through Audioquest interconnects to a Creek Classic 5350 SE amp to Audioquest speaker cables to Harbeth 7ES-3 speakers). I have been knocked out by each and every one of them. The video aspect is outstanding, with great clarity, resolution and contrast. The audio is likewise knockout - great clarity and resolution, with excellent dynamic range.

Honesty requires that I tell you that these DVDs are sourced from old film and TV broadcasts, so they are not going to be to modern studio standards - there is only so much that can be done with these sources. That said, I am absolutely floored by what Jazz Icons has been able to do with them.
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Format: DVD
Chet Baker was many things: trumpeter, singer, junkie, icon. But the most important label, and the only one that really matters, is artist. Baker was one of the few musicians who could break your heart every time you listened to him play. His buttery tone and beautiful phrasing exemplified the best of the West Coast school of jazz. Baker's compelling talent and charismatic presence is shown to its fullest in this superb Jazz Icons DVD, which presents the late trumpeter in two performance settings filmed 15 years apart. Leading off is a 1964 Belgian television special that finds him in the company of several leading European musicians: French pianist Rene Urtreger, Belgian saxophonist Jacques Pelzer, and an Italian rhythm section comprised of bassist Luigi Trussardi and drummer Franco Manzecchi. The softly lit studio space enhances the intimate, after-hours ambience as Baker and his group tear through spirited versions of "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Airegin," explore the emotional terrain of "Isn't it Romantic" and "Time After Time," and finish up with an all-too-brief, oh-so-cool version of the Miles Davis classic "So What." The high point of the set is Baker's vocal on the ballad "Time After Time." His singing, like his trumpet playing, was simple, pure and unforgettable. Every note seemed to channel all the pain and frustration of his personal life. By the time of this 1979 Norway concert performance, Baker's once angelic features had eroded and hardened due to the ravages of dope and time, yet he still played with a lyricism that put Gabriel and his trumpet to shame. In fact, his playing had more depth and texture than ever.Read more ›
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