Wolfgang Lackerschmid & Chet Baker – Quintet Sessions 1979 – Dot Time Records (Legend Series) #DT8561 – 180 gm vinyl – 1979 – ****
(Chet Baker – trumpet and vocals (track 2); Wolfgang Lackerschmid – vibraphone; Larry Coryell – guitar; Buster Williams – bass; Tony Williams – drums)
Following on the heels of the well received duo recording, released last year (from a 1979 recording) featuring iconic trumpeter, Chet Baker, and German vibraphonist, Wolfgang Lackerschmid (BalladsforTwo), Dot Time Records has upped the ante with a very impressive quintet session, with the duo backed by a dream rhythm section. Backing the pair is the brilliant fusion guitarist, Larry Coryell; veteran bassist, Buster Williams, and drummer phenom, Tony Williams. Just released on pristine 180 gm vinyl, the remastering of this session by Lou Gimenez, at The Music Lab, is first rate. Both the sparkling vibes, and the meaty, “woody” bass, just pop with sparkling clarity.
Like many jazz musicians in the late 70s and early 80s, Baker, Coryell, and the two Williams (not related), were anxious to go out on European tours as the jazz scene in the US was not nearly as vibrant
as was found in Europe and Japan, where audiences were eager to hear American jazz legends. Many African American jazz musicians even relocated to Europe during this period for extended stays.
Coryell had played in the same jazz festival in Austria as Chet and Wolfgang, and had the chance to sit in with them. The vibe was so positive that he wanted to join the duo for some gigs. They had the chance to expand to a quintet when Buster and Tony were available for a recording session. The result is this new release on Dot Time’s “Legend Series.” It will be a limited issue on vinyl, with only 800 copies to be released.
The LP features almost all originals by the group, with only the standard, “Here’s That Rainy Day” being the lone exception. All but Chet have at least one composition to contribute. The constant is a seamless cohesive, largely mellow vibe. Lackerschmid and Coryell blend like a fine Scotch, while Chet stays in his mid-register strength with warm timbre. They are both prodded and inspired by Buster Williams’ rock steady vibrant bass. Tony Williams is limited to mostly accompaniment, but gets to rise to the occasion on “Balzwaltz.”
Stand out tracks include “Biko” where the quintet gets to stretch out, with plenty of solo space . “The Latin One” morphs into “Rue Gregoire Du Tour,” presented on the album with a rehearsal take added.
Chet is featured on “Here’s that Rainy Day,” done as a romantic ballad. The most up-tempo track is Buster Williams’ “Toku Do.” There is a welcome increase in intensity on this track, with Lackerschmid digging in.
There is mostly a relaxed groove on this session, with Baker providing color, and Buster Williams offering a warm embrace for the vibes, and Coryell’s guitar skills. The superb rhythm section helps expand the leaders’ vision.
There is a lot to recommend here, and its superb acoustics would make this a wise purchase for fans of Chet Baker, and his under appreciated vibraphone partner…
Mr. Biko (9:07)
The Latin One (2:24)
Rue Gregoire Du Tour (rehearsal) 4:58
Rue Gregoire Du Tour (6:31)
Here’s That Rainy Day (4:15)
Toku Do (6:30)
More information at Dot Time/Bandcamp website: