Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
If we are doomed to live in a period of nostalgia for the '50s - and, for better or for worse, it seems we are - at least we might as well be nostalgic for some of the good things of that period. It is the early '50s through Saturday at Blues Alley, with the Chet Baker Quartet providing as pleasant a mode of time-travel as you are likely to find in town this week. There are no startling revelations, there is no mind-boggling technique, just proficient, mostly laid-back jazz with enough indications of depth and complexity to keep you wanting to hear more.
Although the group is listed as a quartet (Baker on trumpet; Richie Beisach, piano: Frank Tusa doing very good work on bass and Kenny Mastell on drums), there are rally five elements. The fifth part is Baker's singing, usually at the beginning and end of a number, to lead in gently and to bring you down to earth at the end with a reassurance that those cutting things the trumpet was saying were only half serious.
Most of the numbers are arch-formed with high points of intensity and complication in the center, where the basic elements of jazz really happen. It works extremely well.