Chet Baker & Art Pepper – Playboys (1956)

FrontCover1.jpgPlayboys is a 1956 jazz album featuring trumpeter Chet Baker and saxophonist Art Pepper. The album was the third collaboration between Pepper and Baker, following the successes of The Route and Chet Baker Big Band. All three albums were recorded in 1956.

Playboys was reissued in 1961 under the name Picture of Heath after the fifth track (itself a reference to Jimmy Heath, composer of all but two of the tracks). The tracks themselves were presented in a slightly different order, starting with the new title track. Hugh Hefner reportedly objected to the original album cover (clearly inspired by Playboy magazine with its near-identical wordmark and pinup photo) and threatened to sue. For Picture of Heath, the original cover was replaced with a photo of the artists in the recording studio. The 1990 Blue Note/Pacific Jazz CD reissue of Playboys used the ‘pin-up’ cover, but the same label’s 1998 CD reissue returned to the Picture of Heath cover.


These 1956 Pacific Jazz sides appeared in 1961 under the title Playboys. Myth and rumor persist that, under legal advice from the publisher of a similarly named magazine, the collection would have to be retitled. It was renamed Picture of Heath, as more than half of the tracks are Jimmy Heath compositions. Regardless, the music is the absolute same. These are the third sessions to feature the dynamic duo of Art Pepper (alto sax) and Chet Baker (trumpet). Their other two meetings had produced unequivocal successes. The first was during a brief July 1956 session at the Forum Theater in L.A. Baker joined forces with Pepper’s sextet, ultimately netting material for the Route LP. Exactly three months to the day later, Pepper and Baker reconvened to record tracks for the Chet Baker Big Band album. The quartet supporting Baker and Pepper on Playboys includes Curtis Counce (bass), Phil Urso (tenor sax), Carl Perkins (piano), and Larance Marable (drums). Baker and Pepper have an instinctual rapport that yields outstanding interplay. The harmony constant throughout the practically inseparable lines that Baker weaves with Pepper drives the bop throughout the slinky “For Minors Only.” The soloists take subtle cues directly from each other, with considerable contributions from Perkins, Counce, and Marable. With the notorious track record both Baker and Pepper had regarding other decidedly less successful duets, it is unfortunate that more recordings do not exist that captured their special bond. These thoroughly enjoyable and often high-energy sides are perfect for bop connoisseurs as well as mainstream jazz listeners. (by Lindsay Planer)


Chet Baker (trumpet)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Larance Marable (drums)
Art Pepper (saxophone)
Carl Perkins (piano)
Phil Urso (saxophone)


01. For Minors Only (Heath) 4.04
02. Minor-Yours (Pepper) 6.46
03. Resonant Emotions (Heath) 5.44
04. Tynan Tyme (Pepper) 5.35
05. Picture Of Heath 6.47
06. For Miles And Miles (Heath) 6.28
07. C.T.A. (Heath) 5.11



Alternate frontcovers