Release date: November 18, 2022
Label: Dot Time Records
Welcome Back is the third document of vibrant musical collaboration between esteemed vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid and trumpet legend Chet Baker. This nine-track collection features all original compositions and displays the remarkable synergy of these two jazz giants. The supporting cast features Nicola Stylo on flute and guitar on one track, bassists Gunter Lenz and Rocky Knauer, guitarist Peri Dos Santos and drummer Edir Dos Santos.
Recorded in August 1987, this wide-ranging release showcases vast musical landscapes, from poignant ballads to robust Latin rhythms, following in step their previous Dot Time releases, Quintet Sessions 1979 and Ballads for Two.
On Welcome Back, Baker is in top form. Coming across as particularly sensitive, Baker has seldom been observed in such a relaxed mood. The ambiance of the studio with an open fireplace surely contributed to this setting – in fact, listeners can hear the crackling of the burning wood on select tracks. The compositions are lyrical and blend with his renowned, unobtrusively soft performance well, though there are no vocal performances here.
These nine compositions are the perfect roadmap for Baker’s breathy horn and Lackerschmid’s formidable approach to soloing. Lackerschmikd and Baker are in sync here, emotionally and musically, making for a pair matched in Heaven.
Each of the nine selections provide an impressive framework for these two masters to showcase their work. On the trio and quartet recordings, Lackerschmid completely renounces the rhythmical undertones of the drums, and instead gives listeners the opportunity to listen deeply to the combination of Lackerschmid’s vibes and Chet’s horn. “A good drummer is hard to find and very expensive to employ”, and “I don’t need a drummer because I have the timing in my head”, replied Chet when asked during interviews why he so seldom uses a drummer.
An additional important personality in these recordings is the Italian flutist, Nicola Stilo, who accompanied Chet for years. Knowing each other well from numerous joint performances they have perfect harmony and like Chet, he plays his floating melodies elegantly, never dominating, as a worthy accompanist.
Each of the remaining musicians here shine as outstanding representatives of their instruments, without whom the performance would have been missing the final spice. Two bass players, Lenz and Knauer, and are featured on the Latin-tinged “Gloria’s Answer” and “Volta Trais”, respectively, and Brazilian friends Peri and Edir dos Santos join on guitar and drums.
A particular highlight is “Why Shouldn’t You Cry” played by the trio including Guenter Lenz. This was previously used as the funeral dirge in Lackerschmid’s “Snow White Ballet” which premiered in November in 1988 in the city theater in Augsburg. This title was originally recorded with Chet in January 1979, for the album Ballads For Two, later on June 29, 1979 at the live concert in Kongsberg, Norway, and on December 5, 1980 during the Innsbruck Jazz Festival, again in a duo version.
The romantic and sentimental “Waltz For Berlin” is dedicated to the pulsating city. When one listens to Baker’s melancholy trumpet, this time accompanied by Stilo (but on the guitar), one has the impression that Baker too gave free rein to sentimental memories of his own times in Berlin… perhaps inspired by the “cool days” in 1947-48 in the 298th Army Band with exciting boat rides on the Wannsee, or the nights of 1964 at the Blue Note. While listeners may never know for sure, Welcome Back invites them to fantasize, and to draw their own conclusions sparked by this exceptional musicality.
While Wolfgang Lackerschmid still walks among us and is playing and composing actively, Chet Baker died tragically in Amsterdam on May 13, 1988. These recorded performances serve as a wonderful, if not melancholy memory of an extraordinary musician, who was unique in his own way. Dot Time Records is proud to further cement the legacy of these two great players with their Legends series.
Quintet Sessions 1979
November 13, 2020 (CD & Digital)
January 8th, 2020 (LP)
Label: Dot Time Records
Quintet Sessions 1979 is the follow-up to Dot Time’s critically acclaimed re-release of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. A continuation of Lackerschmid’s great adventure with one of the most prodigious trumpet players in the history of the art form, the album features the spirited duo of iconic trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker and vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid alongside a stellar rhythm section made up of jazz luminaries Larry Coryell (guitar), Buster Williams (bass) and Tony Williams (drums).
The archival vaults have been reopened by Dot Time Records after the widespread success of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. JazzTimes noted “Serenity permeates [Ballads For Two], a serenity born of internal logic that feels both welcome and foreign”. Quintet Sessions offers a distinctly different lens through which to hear these fine musicians coalesce. With two tracks that have never been publicly released and a unique CD/Vinyl package presentation, this material displays the stunning musicianship and compositional prowess that each of these five leaders have along with their instruments.
The year was 1979, Lackerschmid and Baker had traveled by train and ferry from Norway to Austria to perform at a festival engagement following the success of the limited release of Ballads for Two. Following a particularly memorable duo performance, guitarist Larry Coryell came backstage with tears in his eyes. Moved by the performance, he remarked that he would love to join the duo some time. Baker’s agent picked up on this right away, suggesting that the three artists do a record together with a rhythm section. This suggestion was met with a gruff response from Baker: “We don’t need no rhythm section.” Lackerschmid followed up remarking, in a half-joking fashion, that the only rhythm section players that he would trust on the project both have the last name “Williams”. Some weeks later, Lackerschmid received a call from Chet’s agent stating “Buster and Tony are excited to play at this recording session.” Thus an off-the-cuff comment sparked the collaboration between five of the most impactful musicians in the jazz idiom.
Larry, Buster and Tony eagerly arrived in Stuttgart for the recording session, each with compositions of their own. ‘Quintet Sessions’ starts full-swing with Tony Williams’ “Mr. Biko”. Lackerschmid notes “[the tune] created a great atmosphere with various colors, connecting the different musical flavors of the players in a very elegant way.” Coryell, Baker, Lackerschmid and Buster Williams all bring something unique and powerful to the piece during inspired improvisational segments. Lackerschmid’s “Balzwalz” brings the ensemble to full-swing. “Balzen” is the German expression for courtship, which could explain the nearly-imposing bassline from Buster Williams and the passionate bluesy playing from guitarist Larry Coryell leading to an instinctual growl from the rhythm section (at the 1:40 mark). Baker’s voice and melodic acuity sounds in wonderful form scatting over the tune’s changes. On an alternate take, which is included in this CD/Vinyl package, you can hear Chet playing trumpet beautifully over the changes instead of scatting.
Coryell brought in “The Latin One”, a bright-tempoed Latin inspired piece of his pen. During his solo, the guitarist decided to switch to another piece he had written “Rue Gregoire Du Tour”. Lackerschmid notes “because the mood of “The Latin One” had started out so nice, we kept those two minutes and faded at Larry’s solo before he stopped.” Baker shines on “Rue Gregoire Du Tour” delivering a virtuosic solo wrought with melodic intrigue. The album concludes with an energetic blues “Toku Du”. Baker and Coryell demonstrate their bop vocabulary and marvelous time feel over Tony Williams’ primordial, synaptic rhythmic underpinnings. Buster Williams delivers several lively choruses before Lackerschmid closes the tune out with some marvelous, soulful melodic invention, accompanied ardently by Coryell.
Forty years after the remarkable recording session that spawned this release, Dot Time Records’ Legends Series is ecstatic to offer audiences another snapshot of the vitality of the jazz scene of yesteryear with this stunning document of a coalescence of five icons that shaped the jazz idiom over the course of their extensive careers.
Ballads for Two
Release date: July 10, 2020
Label: Dot Time Records
Almost 40 years after its original limited release, Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two can now reach a broader audience, seeing as its initial limited-print vinyl would often have fans set sails on a treasure hunt for a copy of this marvelous collaboration between the two jazz virtuosos.
Meticulously remastered at Gearbox Records, Ballads For Two features a total of 8 tracks, including Lackerschmid originals as well as select covers. This Dot Time Legends release comes with two bonus tracks from the vinyl’s original recording session which took place in a Stuttgart, Germany studio back in 1979. The marriage between the two artists’ sounds could be described as an “emotive and telepathic” partnership of Baker’s trumpet and Lackerschmid’s vibes, with the former unveiling the true breadth of his talent, and claiming his much-deserved place among jazz greats. Album highlights include “Blue Bossa” and “Waltz for Susan”, while fans will appreciate an alternate take of “Why Shouldn’t You Cry:, as well as a mesmerizing performance of Lackerschmid’s “Double O”.
More information can be found online at www.dottimerecords.com.
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"The third documentation of the collaboration between Baker and Lackerschmid is as delightful as the previous two releases." Read the review here.
"The accompaniment on these original instrumentals (by Baker, Lackerschmid and others) is sparse; translucent string bass holds up the bottom, drums and guitar are inconspicuous and Italian flutist Nicola Stylo trades solos with Baker’s cool, precise trumpeting." Read the review here.
"Lackerschmid offers compelling vibes, and the sheer sensitivity of Baker’s trumpet is remarkable. He had made somewhat of a comeback at this stage of his career, and was caught in top form." Read the review here.
"When you listen to this album you appreciate that even at the end of his troubled life, Baker didn’t lose his chops or his ability to move the listener with the sheer beauty of his sound." Read the review here.
".Baker—perhaps like no other trumpeter ever—plays so soft and endearing, it’s swoon-worthy." Read the review here.
"“Welcome Back” starts the listen with Baker’s soulful horn and Lackerschmid’s dreaming vibes making for a very warm lead off, and “Christmas Waltz” follows with meticulous vibraphone playing amid the stirring trumpet." Read the review here.
Quintet Sessions 1979
BOSTON CONCERT REVIEWS
This is a session that is recorded beautifully and captures this moment in time with these radiant musicians vitally, their companionship elegant, flowing, bluesy and swinging free. Read this review here.
Legends Series and follows the reissue of Baker and Lackerschmid duo album, Ballads for Two, from last year. Read this announcement here.
"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…" Read this review here.
JAZZ 'N' MORE
"These artists were well into their prime for these sessions. Those that enjoy jazz with a bluesy edge will find these recordings especially appealing. To this writer, Coryell’s guitar playing is of particular note." Read more here.
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"This is minimalism at its extreme and, let me add, none the worse for that. This is what jazz is all about. Play as few or as many notes as you like as long as they're the right notes for the moment." Read more here.
Ballads for Two
"Completists may mourn the exclusion of “Dessert,” the sole tune co-penned by Lackerschmid and Baker on the original release, but the otherworldly stillness Lackerschmid and Baker provide the mind, body, and soul in these times is worthy of a spin on your turntable." Read this full review here.
"There’s simply no way to make it through this album with your own mood changing into something quieter, something deeper than a mere love song would supply. That’s what Lackerschmid accomplishes." Read this full review here.
THE ARTS FUSE
"It’s an intimate recording — and an apt description of the performance." Read this full review here.
"Chet Baker completists will find lots to like here, and Wolfgang Lackershmid’s vibes talents make a winning combination for this trumpet/vibes experiment. It’s gentle vibe makes a nice change of pace now in our challenging present environment." Read this full review here.