Chet Baker: In Milan (1959) Jazzland/Fantasy OJC

LondonCheapskateRecordCollector here. A must-have album, of many faces, one of which belongs on your turntable. But which?

Selection: Pent Up..Tune Up…Cock-up! rip mix-up! Tune Up (Davis)

.  .  .


Chet Baker, trumpet; Glauco Masetti, alto sax; Gianni Basso, tenor sax; Renato Sellani, piano; Franco Cerri, bass; Gene Victory, drums.  Recorded Milan, Italy, September 25-26,  and October 6, 1959 (including selection Pent Up House).



Chet Baker’s life, and death, has been well documented elsewhere, but a brief repriseserves to set the context for Chet Baker In Milan, which hails from Chet 1.0 – the young trumpeter in the ascendant. Moody Hollywood good looks, glossy tone,  melodic and sensitive voicing, telling a heartfelt and compelling song. And incongruously, he also sang.

Somewhere in the ’50s Chet started out on his lifelong addiction to narcotics. While touring in Europe he consumed vast quantities of the prescription opioid analgesic Jetrium/Palfrium, devoting considerable energy into chasing doctors for prescriptions, persuading friends to supply. Narcotics possession led to his arrest in Germany, Italy and England, and in the mid-’60s he was finally deported back to the US , where an encounter with dealers put him out of action for almost a decade, his teeth knocked out during a beating.  It’s not generally good business practice to deprive your customers of their livelihood, and so unable to maintain their expensive habit.  I’ve argued before, one of the worst things about narcotics is the kind of people you have to deal with to buy them.

Chet 2.0 marked his return in the mid ’70s, painfully recovering his embouchure with the help of dental prostheses.  He moved to Europe, initially to Italy but gigging everywhere, a decade of a nomadic lifestyle playing concerts throughout mainland Europe. His boyish good-looks were now ravaged by narcotic use and his punishing lifestyle, which terminated abruptly in 1988, falling from an Amsterdam hotel second floor window , just short of age fifty.

I’ll leave it to others to debate the musical merits of Chet 1.0 and Chet 2.0. What I see is a man, defiantly still standing, who says “Yes, I am a wreck. But I play, it’s who I am“.

Shortly after the 1959 Chet In Milan recordings, Baker recorded “With 50 Italian Strings” – a waterfall of strings, sighing woodwind and twinkly harp which All Music awarded just 1½ stars, due to its sickly arrangements, described by a Downbeat critic as “lethargic and deadly”.  Is 1½ stars too generous? I would have run a mile just on sight of the 50 strings title, despite the presence of Gianni Basso, tenor-rising from somewhere in the vast string section .

The real treat of Chet In Milan is the encounter with the young Gianni Basso, rising star of the Italian jazz tenor, just before his long-term quintet collaboration with trumpeter Oscar Valdambrini – another fine player not well-known outside Italy, or indeed within. I recall traipsing around Italian street market record stalls enquiring whether they had any Quintetto Basso Valdambrini albums, almost only found in Italy. Blank looks. I thought, perhaps it’s my pronunciation, but no, head shake. Strictly English and American rock and pop, it is all anyone buys or sells here.

Though Basso is often described as modelled on Stan Getz, I hear a different voice:  blistering speed and precision,  eloquently formed figures and driving lines with excitement,  unfailingly inventive and arresting. I think – Tubby Hayes, cockney garrulous, but in Italian, E Pericoloso Sporgersi. His solo in the Rollin’s playbook Pent Up House is a house on fire. The Italian line-up in Milan 1959 was so well-schooled in the American jazz oeuvre it sounds as much like Chet in Hollywood as Milan. “Bartender, save the Americano, hit me with a Negroni.”

Quintetto Basso Valdambrini originals are impossible to find, and I resort to reissues, even a few CDs. On his final departure in 2009, Gianni Basso, left this forwarding address, practice in Italian first. It’s just sort of English but with an added -a, -e, -i and -o at the end of each word:

Tranquilli, non muoio, vado solo a suonare da un’altra parte

Stay calm, I’m not going to die, I’m just going to play somewhere else.

That will be some swinging Afterlife Club, someone get me tickets, front row.

A deep dive into the recordings of Gianni Basso is to be found in the excellently-titled blog  A Jazz Listener’s Thoughts. Now why didn’t I think of that name?

Vinyl:  Fantasy OJC 370 (1989) reissue remastered by Phil de Lancie.

Originally issued as LPM-2094 Chet Baker Sextet & Quartet on the Italian Music Depositato label. By now Chet had  lost his big quiff, he sports care-worn furrowed brows, scanning to spot a dealer. The original Italian 1960 release is fiercely expensive, selling at between 300 – 500 euros shipped from Italy. However it is deep groove, my heart skips a beat, a beautiful artefact. This must be from original tapes, recorded in Italy so mastered in Italy.

Released in US as  Jazzland JLP 18 in both mono and stereo, JLP 918S, and in a number of other cover design guises, including an Orpheum (post-Riverside era reissue), Italian reissue labels Joker, UP, the French Disques Vogue and a legion of modern reissues including Doxy, WaxTime, DejaVue and Uncle Tom Cobley and All records.

I wouldn’t normally admit to owning, let alone recommending Fantasy OJC reissues, but sometimes it’s alright. Riverside’s other label, Jazzland, has some great recordings and some painfully shrill ones, and the original US  pressing quality I have found not reliable. The vinyl can look clean but suffers annoying clicks and pops, compromised by dirty manufacturing origin. British Jazzland issues can be even worse, dropping a tape generation and overly-bright engineering,  so an OJC is not a bad compromise.

Based on their strong track record, I would probably go for  the French Disques Vogue, generally very solid pressings. Which editions boast original tape source, who knows, and whether the moderns are digital transfers, possibly.

De Lancie was voted best remastering engineer in 1991 and boasts a fifteen year history of remastering many classic jazz titles, a steady pair of hands, and had the good sense to engineer straight mono here, JLP 18, not the stereo JLP 918S, I assume.



Collector’s Corner

OJC? Cheapskate! Cheapskate! 1989 remastered?   Infidelity! Unfaithful!! AND it bears the mark of the devil: a barcode. Yes but, yes but…excuses.  It is still mono, and its available in front of me to inspect and take home.

I had wanted this title for a long time, so when I came across a copy face to face in a London record store, at the time  ignorant of its long and varied reissue history. I grabbed it, willing to brave the OJC provenance.  At the counter, the assistant duly fished it from the stock filing system shelves, a horrid job I could never do, I hate filing. He handed it over for inspection. I was shocked but not altogether surprised at its featherweight. I am used to handling and weighing records, something I guess very few people do. 180 grams, 220 grams, 140 grams, this baby was seriously anorexic. The lightest record in my collection is 96 grams, also an OJC.

Showing off to be a knowledgeable collector, a petty vanity, I know,  I commented “ its very light! Less than 100 grams I’d say“. The sales assistant sniffed, not to be one-upped by a mere punter. He took it both hands. “About 120 grams” he sneered, an expression on his face that said  “I sell records all day, mate! You can’t tell me anything” Many years ago, as a student,  I came across an entire book written by a social psychologist about the relationship between supermarket checkout assistants and their “customers”,  all about who has the power in the relationship.

I thanked him for his professional advice, and the offer of a plastic bag, without charge. Small shops apparently escape the irritating  plastic bag tax requirement. “D’ya wanna bag?” first line in the retail relationship today. I took the record home, and shortly after running it through the ultrasonic cleaning machine, out of curiosity mounted it on my digital scales.

102 grams.

For just a moment there, I felt smug.

A Word from our Sponsor.

Any thoughts about Chet, there are a lot of strong opinions out there, and I’m a relative newcomer to his work, being grounded in Miles. Any OJC stories, I’m all ears, well, partly. And Italian jazz fans, be proud, raise your hand high. Great country, great appreciation of quality of life. Especially the white wines of the Alto Adige/ Trentino/ Collio and the very special Veronese Soave Classico.

If I come back for a second chance, London can wait, I’ll make it Italian. Bartender, another Negroni. Pronto.

Certamente signore ItaliJazzCollector, subito!


UPDATE September 25, 2018

Maurizio from Canada shares a pictures of his Jazzland mono of Chet In Milan. Looks a nice laminated cover, better quality cover art than the OJC, nothing cheapskate there, but the concealed black strip at the top where the word STEREO would appear on the stereo edition, currently pasted over by the liner notes.

Very nice.











31 thoughts on “Chet Baker: In Milan (1959) Jazzland/Fantasy OJC

  1. Hello from the city where this lp was recorded and thanks for your fantastic blog!
    Chet was very popular over here in the early ’60s and as you may know even recorded a few songs in Italian. I have most of his records up to the CTI period, including With 50 Italian Strings in a noisy US original, but somehow never got hold of In Milan, even when OJCs were my daily bread. I didn’t know Gianni Basso played on it, so thanks for the tip. His records have always been very rare and the ojc seems like a relatively easy way to get to hear him.


  2. The recent Ethan Hawke biopic “Born To Be Blue” concentrated on the period between his beating and his first comeback. A balance between demons, doubt and vulnerability. Ultimately demons won out and people are hurt. A familiar but too common tale when drugs and art intersect.


  3. OJC is certainly a contentious subject. My take is OJC get you 80-90% of the sound for pocket change. They are preferable to a CD, but are generally inferior to first or early pressings. I have done comparisons between OJC reissues and first/early pressings. Chet Baker in NY- Riverside stereo vs OJC Original is much better with more background ambiance and air. OJC is better at frequency extremes, and a quieter surface, but sounds flat and slightly opaque. “Chet” original Riverside stereo vs OJC. On the original you can hear room echo and the minute sound of breath intake from Baker. Stereo width and depth are outstanding. The reissue has greater dynamics, but otherwise sounds flattened and exhibits some treble stidency. The bands members sound like they were recorded in isolation booths. OTH, have found that Miles Prestige and Bill Evans Riverside OJC pressings to be fairly close to originals.

    Fantasy Records introduced the OJC label in 1984 with a marketing push and some money behind it. “New” remasters, from the original tapes. Budget cover quality and LP weight, but included a Japanese style “OBI” strip. For many this series was an introduction to so much classic and out of print titles. First series included c1984 or c1985 copyright dates along the bottom of the back cover. Fantasy began to convert their back catalog to digital in 1986, including the OJC reissues. With c1986 reissues, you had a 50/50 chance of an analogue master as the source. Any reissue with a copyright date of 1987 or later is from a digital remaster. In some cases you will see “remastered by Phil DeLancie”, which a sure indicator of a digital copy. Any reissue with a bar code on the back is from a digital remaster. Any copy with c1984 or c1985 on the back cover is from an analogue source. Some have caught on and now charge a premium for these “early” OJC pressings.

    My information came from an Atlanta GA High End dealer, who was very friendly with a TAS reviewer who lived in Atlanta. The reviewer in turn knew the principals at Fantasy.

    I have performed numerous comparison tests between early and late OJC reissues, and both against original pressings. In most cases I can identify an analogue from a digital OJC. The digital pressings have glare, strident treble and a sterile sounding background. Some of the analogue OJC reissues compare favorably to original pressings. Some do not. But for the price ??


    • I have no first hand knowledge, but there is significant disagreement on the web regarding the nature of the masters for the Phil DeLancie OJCs. I have seen content attributing DeLancie himself as insisting they were analog transfers. The DeLancie mastered OJC’s that I have sound very good and I can’t distinguish them from the earlier records in the collection.

      A good reference for OJC info is The first 40 OJC releases were in 1982 and I have most of these. Long live the OJC!


    • Confusingly, Phil De Lancie contradicts the ‘digital OJC vinyl’ idea in his email reproduced on thd following thread (apologies for also posting this in another context, below)…

      Admittedly, he does still leave a little room for doubt with his qualification regarding his memory, though apparently cutting notes on the tape boxes confirm this (I’ve posted enough links today… these things are fairly easily found online by anyone inclined).

      How they sound is a different matter, of course, but for listening purposes (as opposed to collecting) don’t dismiss the cheap options without trying some.


  4. Chet was a complete SOB but, on his day, was a very lyrical player. The two major competing books about Chet are the aforementioned (terrific) “Deep in a Dream” which is 75% lifestyle 25% music and is hard on Chet, and “Chet Baker: His Life and Music” by Jeroen de Valk, which is 75% music 25% lifestyle and very forgiving of, and easy on, Chet. You probably need to read both to get something of the measure of the man.

    “Chet Baker Sings” is essential. “Chet Baker Sings and Plays with Bud Shank, Russ Freeman, and Strings” is also top-notch, and it contains “Let’s Get Lost,” his greatest song (IMO). Also on Pacific Jazz, “Chet Baker Big Band” is a nice record – not really a big band, but 6-9 person “west coast all-stars” playing good arrangements very well. Underrated, in my opinion.

    On Riverside, “Chet” is superb (with a serious all-star band), “In New York” is great too.

    “Baker’s Holiday” on Limelight is big favorite of mine. Lovely. It divides opinion, but I think it’s a great example of what he could do in the right circumstances.

    I am a big fan of the Prestige sessions. Richard Carpenter was a notorious thug who plainly took advantage of Chet, but (according to Galvin, anyway) he also provided Chet and his girlfriend with an apartment, food, and dope for the months it took to record the LPs, so (as per the usual with Chet) it’s a confusing situation. As a previous commentator noted, Kirk Lightsey is brilliant on piano on those records. “Groovin” is my personal favorite. And clear and warm Van Gelder sound to boot. What’s not to like?

    I have tried very hard to get into his late ’70s and early ’80s European LPs and just can’t do it. They sound lightweight to me, and his singing is uniformly dreadful. de Valk is a huge fan, but I don’t hear it the same way.


  5. In reference to OJC – if anyone else can tell where I can now find ‘Jenkins Jordan and Timmons’ or George Wallington’s ‘Jazz for the Carriage Trade’ or the early Gene Ammons jam session outputs ‘The Happy Blues’ being an essential album for between £1 – £4 a plate then I’ll gladly listen. This was ten years ago so chances are they may go for slightly more now (but not much). My shelves are full of them but I don’t mind – I’ll never find originals and if I did I certainly can’t afford them at todays crazy prices. Long live the OJC I say!


  6. I started to follow Chet Baker from the end, then I went backwards.
    I divide his music into three periods: 50’s to early 60’s, 60’s to 70’s and 80’s.
    my preferences lay in the first and the last periods.
    he can play, he sings in a simple way but soaks in the spirit of the song.
    he’s not stratospherical as Dizzy or Brownie or Lee, but goes directly to the heart of a lot of standards. I don’t think he liked to write music. he played by heart and gut. many recordings of his last 20 years are negligible, but some are among his best. try the concert in Tokyo.
    the italian issues cited before are great records and great music (and great price).
    italian wines: I DON’T drink, maybe because it’s impossible to find the originals of a single wine?


    • No Problem, dottore, I drink your share!
      The advantage of records over wine is that you can play the same record over and over again, and you still have it. Sadly it doesn’t work that way with a bottle of wine.



  7. Mid fifties ‘Chet Baker Sings’ Pacific Jazz – wonderful. Evergreen standards are delivered by CB in that very cool ,perfect pitch voice, without any improvising.He saves the improvisation up for the featured trumpet solo instrumental section of each piece and the trumpet playing is beautiful and extremely classy.

    I have just discovered early fifties recordings(52/53) by The Gerry Mulligan Quintet featuring CB.The music contains some beautiful counterpoint work between CB and GM(on baritone sax) and its all instrumental.Side 1 of ” The Gerry Mulligan Quintet Vocalion /Mono LAE 549″ features CBs very expressive, sensitive and atmospheric trumpet on some great numbers with “My Funny Valentine” and “Moonlight in Vermont” as stand out tracks. I think this Side 1 comprises a 10″ record originally released in the US.Paul Desmond features on Side 2 but this side is ruined as a Hollywood type choir appears on many of the tracks ,so I don’t play it!

    CB – Great trumpet player and vocalist.Personality wise, sounds fundamentally flawed.Maybe the two are somehow connected?



    • A note on OJC. I find the sound of these reissues perfectly fine, although I agree,they are a little lightweight in the pressing .Without them, there would certainly be a hole in the market and in my collection!
      I bought an OJC still sealed in shrink wrap for a tenner recently from a record fair “Introducing Ernie Henry”…………..realistically, where can I find another vinyl copy of this album at an affordable price? It sounds fine to me but Im sure it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the first pressing.Having said that, Im unlikely to ever find out if this is the case or not!



  8. Last year I bought John Coltrane’s Soultrane an OJC reissue of this Prestige album from 1958 and I find it quite nice actually. It’s a faithful reissue of the original artwork and original Prestige label from the period. Even the weight of the LP itself is heavy and very, very flat, much like the older “non breakable” records of the day in feel. I think it’s a 2015 issue.

    Sound wise, I find it rich and warm, but not muddy in the least, I can tell it’s a Van Gelder master, though I can’t compare to an original, but it does sound very good and dynamic and clean too as the vinyl sounds like it’s quality stuff.

    I do have 2 UMG/Blue Note reissues, one is Cannonball Adderley’s Somethin’ Else (1958) and John Coltrane’s Blue Train from 1957 and I have an original BN issue from the early 60’s of the same, though extremely scratched to the point it’s unlistenable, but I could at least compare the sound of both and the UMG’s are a tad less rich sounding through the mids and bass, but not bad overall and the vinyl is quiet and while not as heavy weight as the OJC, they were not flimsy and overall good sounding too. Now, I know the UMG/Blue Note issues are mastered by Capitol and likely had a digital delay line to the cutter at minimum, but they do still sound quite good overall.

    With the costs between $18-21 USD, can’t beat ’em for those of us who are on more modest budgets.

    As to Chet Baker, not real familiar with his work, but knew of him for decades though. I have ONE album, a CTi CD reissue of a concert he did with Jerry Mulligan from 1975 and if memory serves, it was the first and LAST time since their initial breakup decades earlier that they performed on the same stage together. It’s a very good album overall and was one of my first Jazz purchases in the early 90’s. I need to dig that one out of the box where most of my CD’s still reside after the move 2 years ago and give it a spin in the ol’ CD player.


  9. I’m a big fan of Chet…favourite LP’s well from the early ones the classic Chet on Riverside and Baby Breeze On Limelight and from the later era what could possibly beat The Last Great Concert spread over two Enja LP’s you’d need a hard heart for those not to bring a tear to your eye, Chet is in amazing form so close to his unfortunate end.
    Book wise Matthew Ruddicks Funny Valentine which has just been published in its 3rd edition is my favourite because it doesn’t just concentrate on Chets chaotic lifestyle but goes into great depth on the most important thing the music….in addition in comes with a great guide on collecting his huge output and has this handy webpage,_Part_1.html for when you are hunting your next Chet LP out in the wild.


  10. Perhaps it’s heretical, but I own plenty of OJCs. When I started collecting, that’s all I could find and I never thought twice about it. I think they sound fine, perhaps because I’ve rarely if ever heard an ‘original’ pressing. I’ve always enjoyed Chet’s playing and most of the time, his singing. Some of our most creative artists have been on the edge of life, the rest of us get to enjoy the results without the pain.


  11. Chet is an acquired taste and it’s easy to write off a lot of his recordings as pale imitations of, for example, Miles. However, among his prodigious output there are some truly wonderful even heart rending performances.

    Earlier commenters have mentioned a couple of my favourites. Chet is Back (released on the Italian RCA label) was recorded days after Chet’s release from an Italian prison for, you guessed it, a drugs bust. It’s a terrific performance – and not just by Chet but by the band as a whole. The trifold cover version mentioned above is indeed super rare and expensive being issued as a press promo in limited numbers. The general release that went on sale to the public was a conventional gatefold. Fine recording and mastering on this one.

    The best of the Riverside LPs is Chet in New York. This is a genuine East-meets-West hard bop outing and Chet holds his own with Johnny Griffin as well as riding the waves of a rhythm section powered by Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. I wrote about this beauty on my blog some time ago:

    I have mixed emotions about the Prestige sides. They were recorded under somewhat dubious circumstances yet there are some fine performances and Kirk Lightsey’s piano was a revelation to me on Smokin’

    Lastly, the classic Playboys deserves a mention. Paired up with Art Pepper, Chet co-led an ostensibly West Coast band recording for the archetypical West Coast label Pacific Jazz but produced a frankly East Coast sounding session in no small measure due to the writing skills of Jimmy Heath.

    I’ll finish by recommending the Chet Baker biography by Jeroen de Valk. It gives a powerful sense of Chet and his chaotic lifestyle while remaining both affectionate and unsentimental. A difficult balance to achieve given the subject matter.


    • I can also recommend James Gavin’s biography “Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker” which in parts reads like something Ross Macdonald could have plotted for one of his Lew Archer novels. Gavin also gives a lot of background on the West Coast scene and evolution of Pacic Jazz, as well as the European jazz scene of the 50ies and 60ies. Highly readible and entertaining, even though it is a most tragic ride on to Chet’s death in Amsterdam..


    • Martin, what a wonderful blog you keep! I learned a lot about the various editions of l’Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud.
      Re Chet, mention should be made of the Ensemble , 25 cm PJ 9, never correctly re-issued on 30 cm.


  12. Thanks for the heads up on this, I’ll keep an eye out for this one and Gianni Basso. For Chet’s Italian period, “Chet is Back!” RCA LPM-9922 with Bobby Jasper on tenor is worth looking into. The original Italian tri fold LP is very expensive and there are current re-issues available, but the German (no date, but I believe contemporaneous) issue is can be had for a two-digit sum and is very rewarding.
    For me, the earlier Pacific Jazz material is the most interesting when pianist Dick Twardzik is involved. A great creative musician who deserves more attention.
    My favorites are the five LPs done for Prestige, starting with the 1966 Smokin’ With The Chet Bker Quintet and ending in 1967 Boppin’ With…Something like the Miles Davis marathon sessions that yielded his last prestige dates. A healthy Chet plays Fluegelhorn (who knows the real story why). There’s a great quality to these performances, modern but from a different time than the recording date suggests. Interestingly, the liner notes start with the first release telling a “redemption story” about Chet with the narrative evolving with subsequent titles, ending in the “inevitable fall from grace” story of the last.

    I have to ask, is Chet Baker’s legacy judged not so much because he lost everything the same way that many others had, or unfairly because he had so much going for him?

    OJCs? Well, until I stumble on a copy of Webster Young’s “For Lady”, I’ll have to live with one.


  13. I’m trying to get my thoughts together on Chet..What is it that drives someone with such talent, good looks and potential to such a dismal end? Do you hate yourself for some dark reason that you can’t discuss with anybody and so you just self destruct? Why am I a ‘fan’ of a guy that has been dead for so many years? I am not a ‘newcomer’ to Jazz. Dead guys..Miles, Stan, Bird, Coltrane, Armstrong on and on. At least Tony is still alive and kicking and so am I. OK, back Craig..When I was a little kid, my mother Jane used to sing a lot for no particular reason. Friends, lovers no more, friends not like before…She knew it by heart and from the way she sang, she had copied ‘her style’ from listening to him sing it; although she never mentioned who sang it and I didn’t care; at the time. Fast forward to my ‘dream’ job, bicycle racing and the 70’s and 80’s. Sorry I can’t put up a pic of me and Jan, oh Jan..Team mechanic for the TI Raleigh professional team, based in A’dam. and a Jazz lover and wine connoisseur got me the job because of my language skills. He would ‘hit’ me with a bottle of Moscato saying, dumb gringo, look what he drinks with his meal..One night, we went to a dark bar off the Herrengracht in A’dam..A guy wearing a hat who looked 70, old for me at that time, was playing trumpet solo and he began to sing; friends, lovers no more..I was transposed. WTF (in today’s vernacular) how did he know my mother’s song? Anyway I just listened, singing to myself with him. We stayed a bit, then left. not until many years years later did I learn that Chet Baker had died a ‘few’ days later in A’dam, not far from that bar. What might have happened if Chet and Stan had become friends? Or Chet and Miles? What might have blossomed musically? OK, I’m done and it’s late, EST. What if ‘drugs’ had not played a part in their lives? A movie with Chet and Burt Reynolds; maybe..The story ends and we’re just friends.

    Check out my FB page and I’ll post a pic of Jan and I.


  14. For me, the C.B. recorded in Italy 1962 with Bobby Jasper and Rene Thomas is his finest. On this record the Sonny Rollins tune Pent Up House is fantastic. Highly recommend , check it out.


  15. When I was seriously getting into Jazz in the eighties OJCs at £5 a pop were a wonderful resource, just like French Blue Notes and UK Jasmines, nowadays it popular to dismiss such readily available and affordable reissues in favour of impossible to find or prohibitively expensive originals, all I can say is that such an attitude back then would have severely stunted my Jazz education. The cost was great, availability was good with my local Jazz shop managing to stock most of them, the pressings are generally fine, the music is first class and they even managed to produce a really nice illustrated catalogue or two. If I hadn’t bought those OJCs I wouldn’t have had the knowledge to buy some very nice Esquires and Statesides just a year or two later and I’m happy to say that many OJCs still lurk in my collection, I also like Chet and his singing.


  16. Don’t be too embarrassed by the OJC, most of us have had one or two find their way on to our shelves!

    As far as the music goes, the biggest surprise when I picked up a copy this year (original mono promo; not-so-humble brag) was how great the tenor player, the unbeknownst-to-me Gianni Basso, was! He really felt like the star of the show here.


    • Hello from the future 😂 Don’t be embarrassed at all. I suspect there is a lot of prejudice, informed by misinformation, involved in people’s assessment of the OJCs in particular. Let your ears and natural responses be your guide.


      • Greetings, Future, glad you could make it back here to join us here in Present (much over-rated)

        Most Fantasy/OJC 80’s reissues were remastered by George Horn, who I have learned left us only last year at age 87, in August 2021. I may have been a little unkind to Horn by comparison with Rudy Van Gelder/Prestige originals in the 60s, but that is my benchmark.

        I have only a few OJC, not exactly a scientific sample, but not I hope ill-informed. My impression is that van Gelder ’60s masters were cut hot and loud, intended for mono on 160-180gm vinyl. By the late 70s/’80s, other engineering criteria applied: thin vinyl, lower gain, more digital and solid state intervention, stereo, they don’t sound as good, that is what my ears tell me. That is not to say they sound “bad”, but you have to have a reference point to make an informed comparison.

        In this case, I’m content with Chet in Milan on OJC, as I have a variable experience with Jazzland, one of the low points in US original vinyl. Gianni Basso continues to be one of my high-points.


        • I certainly wouldn’t challenge what your ears tell you in comparisons with originals. In fact, I wasn’t making comparisons, merely giving my opinion (not very obviously) that the 80s OJCs are worthwhile and not ti be dismissed out of hand as a good source of the music.

          Regarding George Horn, by the way, he was the head of mastering at Fantasy, but the ‘GH’ in the deadwax of early OJCs is Gary Hobish. Gary worked for George then was replaced by Phil De Lancie. My source is a message by Gary himself…

          Phil De Lancie also cut OJC vinyl (and also by the way, confirmed the vinyl was AAA in the 80s and into the 90s)… source – an email from Phil reproduced a few posts down here…


          • Holy Ritchie Von Gilda! (That’s the other RVG) George Horn and Garry Hobish , same initials, GH, thanks for the insight, I need macro photos.

            The Hoffman discussion on Phil de Lancie is interesting. Original tapes, Neumann lathe, all the right noises, but there are so many other factors, I don’t hear original AAA or modern AAA in the finished 80s/90s product. No-one would be more delighted if I did, but it is missing.

            The last OJC I picked up was Tommy Flanagan “All The Cats”: dull, flat and uninteresting. I’m sure de Lancie means well, and GH, but the results don’t deliver, whatever the sources and methods.


            • Ah, I don’t have ‘All The Cats’, but that description doesn’t match my take of the ones I’ve been listening to over the last 20 to 30 years… e.g. the late 50s/early 60s Art Peppers (including that perpetual cliché but wonderful album ‘Meets The Rhythm Section’), ‘Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet’, ‘Saxophone Colossus’.

              Maybe it’s a matter of preferences… or what each of us listens for… maybe it’s a matter of the architecture of one’s ears…


  17. Very interesting career imo. I just got and listened for the first time to chet in New York. Absolutely fiery hard bop. He goes toe to toe with Johnny Griffin without breaking a sweat. And plays very interesting phrases that were really his own. Although his music got a little pigeonholed maybe I think he could really play anything. I have a live show from the 70s with more modern stuff like a Sam Rivers cover.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s