Almost 40 years after its original limited release, 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. 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".
Not all the selections are exactly ballads - there are several medium-paced numbers, like 'Softly, As in A Morning Sunrise,' where Baker's solo is fascinating, almost abstract. Lackerschmid's open, sustained sound surrounds Chet's warm, breathy delivery for a luminous, shimmering landscape that suits the music perfectly. The impact, however, is not of lyrical impressionism but, if we can imagine it, of a whispered expressionism.
The music is wonderfully evocative, deeply contemplative stuff. More intriguing than new age, more adventurous than 'smooth jazz,' yet less experimental than the out-there fringes of free jazz, Ballads for Two is simply a delight. The pieces all but force the listener to stop whatever he or she is doing and just sit quietly with the music.
Neither man aims for virtuosity or showiness as there was a late night mood to be evoked. That is perhaps why Baker felt so at home in the European jazz scene during the last decade of his life - and led him to collaborate with Lackerschmid on this album and in various live performances. The trumpeter wasn't physically able to wail on his instrument but his melancholic sound cut right to the core of anyone with a soul in their body. Are you that somebody? Dot Time's clean, frills-free reissue of this 1979 release is for you.
- Hand-Numbered, Limited Collectors Edition
- Limited To 500
- Vinyl mastering by Caspar Sutton-Jones at Gearbox Records, London, UK
- 2 bonus tracks from original recording session
|Wolfgang Lackerschmid||vibes, percussion|
- Blue Bossa
- Five Years Ago
- Why Shouldn't You Cry
- You Don't Know What Love Is
- Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
- Waltz For Susan
- Double O
- Why Shouldn't You Cry (Muted Trumpet Version)