Saturday, November 17, 2018

Chet Baker - 1954 - Chet Baker & Strings

Chet Baker 
Chet Baker & Strings

01. You Don't Know What Love Is 3:28
02. I'm Thru With Love 2:37
03. Love Walked In 2:56
04. You Better Go Now 3:04
05. I Married An Angel 3:35
06. Love 2:33
07. I Love You 2:47
08. What A Diff'rence A Day Made 2:39
09. Why Shouldn't I? 3:34
10. A Little Duet For Zoot And Chet 2:36
11. The Wind 4:00
12. Trickleydidlier 2:40

1998 CD edition bonus tracks:
13. You Don't Know What Love Is (Alternate) 3:28
14. You Better Go Now (Alternate) 3:09
15. A Little Duet For Zoot And Chet (Alternate) 2:39

Bass – Joe Mondragon
Drums – Shelly Manne
Piano – Russ Freeman
Saxophone – Bud Shank
Tenor Saxophone – Zoot Sims
Strings – Eudice Shapiro
Strings – Felix Slatkin
Strings – George Kast
Strings – Jacques Gasselin
Strings – Lou Kievman
Strings – Paul Robyn
Strings – Paul Shure
Strings – Samuel Cytron
Strings – Victor Gottlieb
Tenor Saxophone – Jack Montrose
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Released in The Netherlands and Italy as Chet Baker With Strings in 1956, and in Canada and the USA by the Harmony label in 1964 as Love Walked In

Released: 14 April 1954
Recorded: 30 December 1953 - 20 February 1954

This release offers a unique glimpse of a young Chet Baker in a quintet setting, complemented by a nine-piece string section. Utilizing the uniquely modern arrangements of Johnny Mandel, Marty Paich, Jack Montrose, and Shorty Rogers, this interaction of "West Coast cool" with primordial elevator music escapes many -- if not indeed all -- of the potential sonic pitfalls such a marriage might suggest. In the truest sense of the word augmentation, the string arrangements provide the desired opulence sans the heavy-handed or syrupy residual effects. Perhaps most inspiring about this outing is the success with which Baker and crew are able to thrive in this environment, providing subtle insight into the quintet's ability to simultaneously adapt and explore. Chet Baker and Strings was recorded over three days in late 1953 and early 1954. Joining Baker (trumpet) on these sessions are Jack "Zoot" Sims (tenor sax), Jack Montrose (tenor sax), Russ Freeman (piano), Joe Mondragon (bass), Shelly Manne (drums), and Clifford "Bud" Shank (alto sax), who steps in for Sims on the 1954 date. "Love Walked In" incorporates a trademark volley of interaction between Baker and Sims. "Love" contains what is arguably the most successful implementation of the string section, as well as some stellar soloing by Freeman. In fact, his contributions to this particular recording rank among his finest with Baker and company. The same enthusiasm can likewise be applied to "A Little Duet for Zoot and Chet." Not only are Sims and Baker in top flight, but the string arrangement swings irresistibly as well. The easygoing and otherwise winding strings support the cool bop like a kite in a March breeze -- light, airy, and conspicuous only in altitude.

"When Chet Baker joined Gerry Mulligan's pianoless quartet in September of 1952, he was a mere twenty-three years of age practically unknown in the music world. The young musician's jazz conception was so strikingly original, his sound so pleasing and intimate, that international recognition of his talents came in a short time. One year after his first record release he was voted the country's best jazz trumpet player in year-end popularity polls conducted by both Down Beat and Metronome magazines. This was unprecedented; no musician in the history of either poll had come from obscurity to the coveted first place position in less than one year." ~ Mike Zwerin ~

It's not easy pulling together great musicians such as tenor sax players Zoot Zims and Jack Montrose, alto saxophonist Bud Shank, pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Joe Mondragon, drummer Shelly Manne, fine arrangers Johnny Mandel, Marty Paich and Shorty Rogers to record a beautiful album, but Chet Baker made it happen with "Chet Baker & Strings." When it comes to trumpet playing, he was an institution. He was one of the best trumpeters of all-time and this album is a testimony of his remarkable talent that was never unappreciated by his fellow musicians and many jazz lovers as well.

Baker and the regular musicians are backed by a nine-piece string section that utilized six violins, two violas and a cello making all the tunes so "pleasing and intimate." The last three alternate takes are bonus tracks and not included on the original LP record that was produced in 1954 by Columbia Records.

To my ears, some of the loveliest tunes from this set include George Gershwin's "Love Walked In" executed in such a beautiful rendition with an enchanting arrangement scored by Marty Paich, a graduate of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music who is not only recognized as a fine arranger, but also a talented jazz pianist. He worked with Peggy Lee as an accompanist/arranger for many years.

You'll also be enthralled with Cole Porter's "I Love You" done in a breezy and smooth flowing arrangement by Johnny Mandel, a brilliant composer/arranger/musician who attended the prestigious Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard School of Music who also wrote the charts for the equally impressive melodies of "You Don't Know What Love Is," "The Wind" and "Love."

Shorty Rogers wonderful chart arrangements on "What A Diff'rence A Day Made" and "I'm Through With Love" have elevated these tunes into a greater degree of appreciation. Also one of the best tracks is "You Better Go Now," a hauntingly beautiful melody by Graham Reichner made more lovable with Jack Montrose's noteworthy chart arrangement.

I'm a huge fan of strings that's why I truly enjoy listening to this CD, one of the most remarkably romantic Chet Baker recordings that is worthy to be added to your music library. Give it a listen and enjoy!

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