Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Oh arse ... not another "tribute album". Good 'cause it isn't. Well not really.
Imagine an album dedicated to the meory of Chet Baker by one of the greatest contemporary trumpet players. It's got to be good, right? Well then imagine it's actually by two of the greatest contemporary trumpet players ... joined by one of the best piano players! All Italian by the way (if that matters).
Not a "new" album (it was released in 1999) but new to me "Shades Of Chet" by Enrico Rava (trumpet, flugelhorn); Paolo Fresu (trumpet); Stefano Bollani (piano); Enzo Pietropaoli (bass) and Roberto Gatto (drums).
A selection of songs not necessarily by Chet, but certainly associated with him "My Funny Valentine" "Line for Lyons" etc. But - not necessarily played in a Chet style and thankfully not sung at all (à la Chet or otherwise).
Two trumpets might clash but here they seem to weave and flutter between and around each other quite happily. Great playing between them on the cover of "Doodlin' ".
Some nice piano. Though sadly only one or two, all too brief, solos from Bollani - but given its a tribute to Chet Baker that's probably to be expected, though the brief high paced piano solo on the version of "Strike Up The Band" is a worthy exception.

I do like Chet Baker (trumpet... very much - vocals... less so). And I do accept he is hugely influential among today's trumpet players. But it's a bit of a shame that him and Miles seem to "corner the market" in tribute albums. Like to see a bit more attention payed to Clifford Brown myself.
I also wonder if the Chet "myth", or perhaps more accurately "legend" hasn't elevated his status slightly more than it deserves?? Maybe not.
"Tribute" albums can be tricky, but this one seems to be more a collection of tunes, some with a connection to Chet but played in the bands own way. If it wasn't for the title of the album it would be less a "tribute" and more a "friendly nod towards..." - which might have been better.

Any other gripes? Yes. No cover of "I'll Remember April". Sad.

All in all though a dam fine album that, given I really like Rava, Fresu and Bollani, should have been in my collection years ago.

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