Chet Baker’s first American tour included stops in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. The appearances in major cities were at established jazz clubs where the quartet was booked for stays of a week or longer. In between the major stops there were many one night performances such as the concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Ann Arbor concert on Sunday, May 9, 1954, was organized by local jazz promoter and disc jockey, Ollie McLaughlin, who arranged to tape the concert which was presented at the Masonic Temple, 327 South Fourth Avenue, just a few blocks from the University of Michigan campus. McLaughlin had presented the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Masonic Temple in March and portions of that concert were recorded and released by Columbia Records on their “Jazz Goes to College” LP, CL 566.
The concert was advertised in the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily, and a record store near the campus featured three of Baker’s Pacific Jazz LPs, Chet Baker Sings [PJLP-11], Chet Baker Quartet [PJLP-3], and Chet Baker Quartet featuring Russ Freeman [PJLP-6].
Earlier that week Marlon Brando’s THE WILD ONE had opened at a theater near the campus and ads for the film mentioned “jazzed-up hoods on a bust-up binge…” and the soundtrack featured Shorty Rogers and many of Chet’s musician friends as well as the pianist in the quartet, Russ Freeman.
Pacific Jazz released the Ann Arbor concert the following year as the third release in their new 12” LP format, Pacific Jazz PJ-1203.
Portions of the concert were also released in Pacific Jazz’s extended play series as EP 4-31 and EP 4-32.
The concert bill included another group as noted in the ads for the concert, The Four Robbins. A column in the student newspaper mentioned “The Four Robins” only in passing and added that the two groups should “make this an eminently listenable evening.” The proof can be heard in the Pacific Jazz album. The audience reaction and applause was included for each selection played by the quartet, each drawing ample enthusiastic response from what sounds like a full auditorium. In an interview with Russ Freeman he recalled that someone in the audience requested “In The Mood” and Chet’s response was also preserved in the recording, “We don’t play “In The Mood.”
Ollie McLaughlin had a distinguished career as a jazz concert producer and disc jockey. He passed away in 1984.
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