Friday, April 27, 2018

Chet Baker, Jim Hall, Hubert Laws - 1982 [2017] "Studio Trieste"

Studio Trieste is an album by trumpeter Chet Baker, guitarist Jim Hall and flautist Hubert Laws which was recorded in 1982 and released on the CTI label.

Baker's CTI recordings (which were usually arranged by Don Sebesky) always came off well. For what would be his final CTI date, he was matched with guitarist Jim Hall, flutist Hubert Laws and a fine rhythm section for two jazz standards ("Django" and "All Blues") and a pair of unusual pieces ("Malaguena" and "Swan Lake"). Throughout, Sebesky's charts favorably showcase Baker's lyrical trumpet, making this a recommended LP that deserves to be reissued on CD.

A great later date from CTI – proof that the label still had its magic going on well into the 80s! The session's a larger group effort headed up by Don Sebesky, and featuring key solos by Chet Baker, Jim Hall, and Hubert Laws – all of whom get plenty of room to do their thing on the album's longer tracks! Other players include Kenny Barron, Jack Wilkins, Jorge Dalto, George Mraz, and Steve Gadd – plus bit of added percussion – and although the group is large, the overall sound is relatively lean – spacious and airy, in keeping with Baker's best moments on records like these, and always sensitive enough to let Hall's gentle work on the strings of his guitar shine through nicely! Titles include "Malaguena", "Django", "Swan Lake", and "All Blues".

Creed Taylor suggested the line-up for this record; “Hall, Baker and Laws have the innate and unmistakable ability to know what to leave out,” he comments in the liner notes. As the title suggests, there’s a Latin tinge to the album, a likely deliberate attempt to recreate the feel of Jim Hall’s ‘Concierto’. ‘Malaguena’ opens the proceedings, a vehicle for Jim Hall, keyboard player Jorge Dalto and percussionist Sammy Figueroa; the keyboard sound has dated badly, unfortunately. ‘Django’ is an improvement, with solos from Hall, Law, Chet, then Kenny Barron on electric piano. Hard to know Tchaikovsky would have made of Sebesky’s arrangement of ‘Swan Lake’, but I’m not sure he would have approved of the electric piano. The overall effect is less delicate and understated than the earlier ‘Concierto’. Finally there’s a Spanish-tinged read of Miles Davis’s ‘All Blues’, which is probably the highlight of the album, featuring enjoyable solos from the three leads. An enjoyable session, but on which has not held up as well as Chet’s earlier sessions on CTI.

Studio Trieste is a recording which I originally stumbled across thirty years ago while looking for something new in the way of jazz. I always liked most of the CTI releases and was familiar with most of the musicians, so I picked it up. It is simply a tremendous piece of work.
The CD version I bought is a Japanese pressing and has excellent sound quality. Every piece, from start to finish, is a sonic delight and are well chosen from different musical worlds. My favorite cut is the dreamy interpretation of John Lewis' Django, but I like the others almost as well. There is one classical piece, two from the world of jazz, and a rousing rendition of Malaguena composed by Cuba's Ernesto Lecuona. Among the performers are Jim Hall, Chet Baker, and Hubert Laws who with the others all put in stellar performances.
Sadly, it seems that Studio Trieste kind of came and went without any promotion from CTI the first time around. Now that it's back, don't let it pass you by. I'd mention it comes with a small booklet, but it's almost entirely in Japanese. Enjoy, this is a keeper.

Studio Trieste was issued on Vinyl in 1982 by CTI record and I'm so delighted to find that it has finally been reissued.
If you are new to post trad Jazz this is a great place to start. If you love Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and love Jazz guitar I think you will really enjoy this CD.

The musicians on this album are all masters of the genre. They jam with incredible sensitivity -clearly driven by a deep respect for each other's musicianship. Chet Baker's entry on Swan Lake is sublime and his contribution on "All Blues" stands comparison with Mile's original.

Track listing:

1. "Swan Lake" (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) – 8:42
2. "All Blues" (Miles Davis) – 9:43
3. "MalagueƱa" (Ernesto Lecuona) – 9:44
4. "Django" (John Lewis) – 10:02


Chet Baker – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jim Hall – guitar
Hubert Laws – flute
Kenny Barron (tracks 1 & 4), Jorge Dalto (tracks 2 & 3) – keyboards
Jack Wilkins – guitar (track 4)
Gary King – electric bass (tracks 1 & 4)
George Mraz – bass (tracks 1 & 2)
Steve Gadd – drums
Sammy Figueroa – percussion



  2. I thank you for uploading this awesome album. Each & every track is unique in its own way but the standout is the John Lewis classic 'Django'; which is totally out of this world thanks to the well-structured solos by Jim Hall, Hubert Laws & Chet Baker. Thank you.