In retrospect, a High Priest of Cool.

Chet Baker – René Thomas – Live In Italy – 1962 – Past Daily Downbeat.

Chet Baker: In retrospect, a High Priest of Cool.

Chet Baker/René Thomas – Live in Bologna – 1962 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Some Chet Baker this weekend – actually, the attraction for me was Renè Thomas, who was an extraordinary guitarist. But we’ll go with Baker too.

This one was recorded by RAI on April 15, 1962 at a club in Bologna, Italy.

The original recording is a bit creeky in spots and needed some cleaning up – and it promptly fades out during the last song, Donna Lee, which I suspect was because it was station-break time. But in any event, it’s a good gig all around – and frankly Thomas shines on this one.

Here’s what’s on the player:

Chet Baker with Renè Thomas
Bologna (Italy), Cantina
April 15, 1962

Chet Baker – trumpet
Renè Thomas – guitar
George Gruntz – piano
K.T. Geier – bass
Eberhard Stengel – drums

1. Our Delight (Tadd Dameron) 14:52
2. Solar (Miles Davis) 22:07
3. Pennies from Heaven (Arthur Johnson-Johnny Burke) 10:55
4. Donna Lee (Miles Davis) 7:12 [inc]

A few words about René Thomas via Fresh Sounds Records in Spain, who have issued a 2-CD set of his live and unreleased material (well worth checking out):

“René Thomas (1927-1975) was considered the best European jazz guitarist of his generation by fellow musicians and critics, but his career was marred by the pervasive skepticism of jazz fans. Despite trying hard to carve his own space, he never obtained the recognition he deserved for his immense talent, perhaps because of his introverted character and prolonged withdrawals from the scene.

Shy and taciturn by nature —always entrenched behind a pair of thick portho— Thomas became authoritative and convincing as soon as he picked his guitar. That’s when this unique jazzman truly shined. With a deep, rich sound and absolute control of his instrument, he was always at ease, delicately distilling the most difficult passages in a simple, straight-forward manner. In the 45 years that have gone by since his death, René Thomas has become a legend, and although today he enjoys worldwide respect and admiration, he is still often underrated in comparison with other great guitarists. This album is a humble homage to this guitar genius”.

Over to you.

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