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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

Chet Baker and Enrico Pieranuzi - Soft Journey
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Enrico Pieranuzi (piano)
Maurizio Giammarco (tenor sax)
Ricardo Del Fra (bass)
Roberto Gatto (drums)
rec. Rome, December 1979 and January 1980
EGEA SCA 140 [42:06]




Soft Journey
Animali Diurni
Brown Cat dance
Night Bird
Fairly Flowers
My Funny Valentine


Enrico Pieranuzi and Chet Baker first met in 1979 when they played at a club in Rome and soon agreed to make a recording together. It was apparently well received on its first appearance but had little distribution. In the early 1990s it was re-released as a CD but the company went belly-up and so, once again, wide release was denied it. Letís hope that this is third time lucky because itís a good set, recorded in December 1979 and January 1980.

Baker was clearly sympathetic to Pieranuziís quartet and the latterís original compositions, along with one by the tenor saxist Maurizio Giammarco, are idiomatic and well suited to the visitorís plangent styling. The opener and title track is a gentle swinger, neatly arranged. On the saxophonistís song, Animali Diurni Baker sings, whilst the saxist plays lyrically behind him; Bakerís ethereal playing and later wordless vocals, as well as the articulate piano solo elevate this number way beyond the merely gestural. Brown Cat Dance is an angular boppish theme with choruses democratically parcelled out before the themeís concluding restatement. Bakerís solo is one of the discís high points, a splendid example of lyrical phrasing and expert time.

I suppose it was inevitable that we should get My Funny Valentine but this duet for Baker and Pieranuzi is still a fine one, not least for Bakerís typically haunting, haunted other-worldly vocals. He is probably at his best on the trumpet in Night Bird, where he takes a solo of swinging fluency and tonal beauty. And on the last track, Fairy Flowers, we hear that famously muted, tremulous fragility at work.

Itís always tempting to bring out these particular words to describe Baker Ė ethereal, fragile, and the like Ė but thatís how he plays. The contrast between Baker and Maurizio Giammarcoís much busier saxophone is actually fruitful not destructive. A fine set then.

Jonathan Woolf



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