Acoustic Sounds

Baker-Pepper Sextet (Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Phil Urso, Carl Perkins, Curtis Counce and Larance Marable)

Picture of Heath



Label: Pacific Jazz/Blue Note "Tone Poet"

Produced By: Richard Bock?

Mastered By: Kevin Gray

Lacquers Cut By: Kevin Gray

By: Michael Fremer

December 26th, 2022


Jazz Cool Jazz



The Aural Equivalent of Watching The Blue Angels Air Show

Uptempo Pepper and Baker in their prime leave a vapor trail

Despite the inherent lightness and breeze of "West Coast" jazz, this set recorded Halloween day 1956 is simultaneously cool and blazing hot, with Art Pepper and Chet Baker at their youthful peak navigating a set of intricately written and charted tunes, five of the seven by Jimmy Heath, hence the album's title, plus two by Pepper.

If you're of a certain age, some of the uptempo vibe here will remind you of 50s and 60s era television show theme songs because the composers were listening to this much hipper music and feeding it to the masses in a far more simplified form.

On the faster tunes when the horn trio gets going in lockstep formation supported by the formidable rhythm section, it produces a feel that combines comfort and ease with daredevil swagger and immediacy that's as fresh and exciting today as it must have felt back when fins were still on the automotive drawing board.

Nothing about this music requires explanation other than to say if your only exposure to Chet Baker is in his later strung out, more vulnerable years, his playing here will surprise. Of course as Thomas Conrad explains in his new annotation, both Baker and Pepper were already addicts, but not yet on the downside. This is happy, uptempo music.

The Radio Recorder monophonic sound presents as strong a case for the joys of mono as Masterpieces By Ellington and that's saying a lot. The sound is immediate, dynamic, intense, and "snappy" in the best sense of the word. An earlier Pure Pleasure reissue cut by Ron McMaster on the Capitol lathe obviously in need of an update, sounded fine until this release, which restores the transient "snap" and clarity clearly on the tape missing from that reissue.

As for the supposed defect on side two track four, Art Pepper's "Tynan Thyme", that produces skipping and/or groove jumping on some rigs, I played the track on three different turntables with no problems to report. Yes, two of them are costly set ups but one was the $999 Technics SL-100C fitted with a mono cartridge.

Someone commented on the Blue Note website that his other 4500 records play fine so how can it be his turntable? Has that person tried the cannon shots on the Telarc 1812 Overture? That one also wouldn't play—not that this track produces a near square wave!

While I'm at it, let me put in a good word for the late Jimmy Heath's final album Love Letter (Verve B0032217-01) cut by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound. Great sound and a great send off for a gentleman jazz giant. Will play on any turntable.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: PJ-18/B003674-01

Pressing Plant: RTI


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: Original Analog Master Tapes

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2022-12-27 09:46:29 PM

    MikeT wrote:

    Regarding Picture of Heath, Please also try playing all of side 2 on all three setups or more. I have issues with the LP, but for me it occurs only on track 1 and track 3 of side 2. Track 4 on side 2 plays perfectly for me as well.

  • 2023-01-07 05:20:49 PM

    Come on wrote:

    I wonder what test pressings are for if not to prevent this. No excuse imo.

    • 2023-01-07 05:30:05 PM

      Come on wrote:

      My problem is on track 3 side 2 at no special dynamic impulses at a few places, but no other one. It rather seems a variety of pressing problems in the whole batch.

  • 2023-01-20 09:17:41 PM

    otaku wrote:

    How about a version with the original 'Playboys' cover art?

  • 2023-02-08 07:44:54 PM

    Come on wrote:

    I meanwhile played two other copies. Different places to no places with tracking problems.

    It’s a pressing problem.

  • 2023-03-29 12:03:02 PM

    Joe Taylor wrote:

    Just got my copy and both sides played through with no problems.