Saturday, November 17, 2018

Chet Baker - 1954 - Chet Baker Sings

Chet Baker 
Chet Baker Sings

1954 10 inch:

01. But Not For Me
02. Time After Time
03. My Funny Valentine
04. I Fall In Love Too Easily
05. There Will Never Be Another You
06. I Get Along Without You Very Well
07. The Thrill Is Gone
08. Look For The Silver Lining

Bass – Carson Smith
Drums – Bob Neel
Piano – Russ Freeman
Trumpet, Vocals – Chet Baker

1956 Pacific Jazz LP reissue with black World Pacific Records label:

01. That Old Feeling 2:59
02. It's Always You 4:17
03. Like Someone In Love 3:26
04. My Ideal 4:19
05. I've Never Been In Love Before 4:25
06. My Buddy 3:16
07. But Not For Me 3:00
08. Time After Time 2:44
09. I Get Along Without You Very Well 2:54
10. My Funny Valentine 2:14
11. There Will Never Be Another You 2:55
12. The Thrill Is Gone 2:46
13. I Fall In Love Too Easily 3:16
14. Look For The Silver Lining 2:36

Bass – Carson Smith (tracks: 7-12)
Bass - James Bond (tracks: 1-6)
Drums – Bob Neel (tracks: 7-12)
Drums – Lawrence Marable (tracks: 3, 4, 6)
Drums – Peter Littman (tracks: 1, 2, 5)
Piano – Russ Freeman
Trumpet, Vocals – Chet Baker

Recorded At – Forum Theatre, Los Angeles – Side 1
Recorded At – Capitol Studios – Side 2

As Gerald Heard's liner notes point out, it's difficult to decide whether Chet Baker was a trumpet player who sang or a singer who played trumpet. When the 24-year-old California-based trumpeter started his vocal career in 1954, his singing was revolutionary; as delicate and clear as his trumpet playing, with a similarly bright and vibrato-free tone, Baker simply didn't sound like any previous jazz singer. His first vocal session, recorded in February 1954 and covering tracks seven through 14 of this disc, is so innocent-sounding it's like cub reporter Jimmy Olsen had started a new career as a jazz singer. The album's first six tracks, recorded in July 1956, are even more milk and cookies, thanks in no small part to syrupy material like Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before" and Donaldson/Kahn's drippy "My Buddy." Choices from the earlier session like "My Funny Valentine" -- arguably the definitive version of this oft-recorded song -- and "There Will Never Be Another You" work much, much better. The spacious musical setting, a simple trumpet and piano-bass-drums rhythm section, is perfect for Baker's low-key style. Despite the few faults of song selection, Chet Baker Sings is a classic of West Coast cool jazz.

Chet Baker - 1954 - Chet Baker Sextet

Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sextet

Original 10 inch tracklist:

01. The Half Dozens 2:23
02. I'm Glad There Is You 3:14
03. Stella By Starlight 3:55
04. Tommyhawk 3:43
05. Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day 4:45
06. Dot's Groovy 4:34

2004 Cd reissue tracklist:

01. Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day
02. Dot's Groovy
03. Stella By Starlight
04. Tommyhawk
05. I'm Glad There Is You
06. Half Dozens
07. Dot's Groovy (EP Take)
08. Stella By Starlight (EP Take)
09. A Minor Benign
10. Ponder
11. Twenties Late
12. X

Baritone Saxophone – Bud Shank (tracks: 1 to 8)
Bass – Carson Smith (tracks: 1 to 8)
Bass – Russ Savakus (tracks: 9 to 12)
Bass Clarinet – Gene Allen (tracks: 9 to 12)
Bassoon – Bob Tricarico (tracks: 9 to 12)
Cello – Seymour Barab (tracks: 9 to 12)
Drums – Shelly Manne (tracks: 1 to 8)
French Horn – Jim Buffington (tracks: 9 to 12)
Piano – Russ Freeman (tracks: 1 to 8)
Trumpet – Chet Baker
Valve Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer (tracks: 1 to 8)

2, 4, 6, 7 recorded sept. 9, 1954,
3, 4, 8 recorded sept. 15, 1954 at Radio Annex in Los Angeles
9-12 recorded on dec. 9, 1957 at Coastal Studios, New York

1-6 originally issued on Pacific Jazz (10") LP-15 in 1955
7, 8 originally issued on Pacific Jazz ER 4-24 in 1955
11 originally issued on Playboy BR 1959 in 1959
9, 10, 12 originally issued on Chet Baker - The Pacific Jazz Years (CD 89292) in 1994

Chet Baker Sextet features tracks recorded by trumpeter Chet Baker in 1954 and 1957 for the Pacific Jazz label and released over the years on various albums, including the original Playboys date. These are stellar "West Coast"-style tracks reminiscent of the small group work Baker did with saxophonist Jerry Mulligan and featuring first class arrangements by Jack Montrose and Bob Zieff. However, the Zieff cuts feature an unusual for the period chamber-style group with French horn, bassoon, cello, bass clarinet, and bass. The result was softly angular and very modern for the time. Interestingly most of the tracks have remained largely unavailable until this collection. While there are far more influential Baker albums from the '50s, Sextet is a beautiful album and a must-hear for Baker aficionados.

My initial introduction to Chet Baker was via one of his many "Sings" albums and it was an immediate turn off. So for years despite the critical acclaim, I neglected a true jazz masterpiece like "Chet." Well I have since come around to enjoy some of his efforts, including the fine discs he made for the Pacific label with Gerry Mulligan and Art Pepper, and this recently reissued title "Sextet." Tracks 1-8 comprising the original LP are from two September 1954 sessions featuring Chet on trumpet, Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, Bud Shank on baritone sax, Russ Freeman on piano, Carson Smith on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. The selections are arranged by Jack Montrose, Johnny Mandel or Bill Holman, and needless to say the playing is tight! The remaining four tracks come from a "lost" December 1957 date featuring a drumless unit of Baker, Jimmy Buffington on French horn, Gene Allen on bass clarinet, Bob Tricarico on bassoon, Seymour Barab on cello and Russ Savakus on bass. Pianist Bob Zieff arranged these modern jazz chamber works, and they are quite interesting. In all, after hearing solid albums like this one by Chet Baker, I am happy to finally "sing" his praises.

Chet Baker - 1954 - Chet Baker Ensemble

Chet Baker 
Chet Baker Ensemble

1954 10 inch release:

01. Bockhanal
02. Ergo
03. Moonlight Becomes You
04. Head Line
05. A Dandy Line
06. Little Old Lady
07. Goodbye
08. Pro Defunctus

2004 CD Release:

01. Bockhanal
02. Ergo
03. Moonlight Becomes You
04. Headline
05. A Dandy Line
06. Little Old Lady
07. Goodbye
08. Pro Defunctus
09. Bockhanal (Alternate Take)
10. Moonlight Becomes You (Alternate Take)
11. A Dandy Line (Alternate Take)
12. Little Old Lady (Alternate Take)
13. Goodbye (Alternate Take)

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Herb Geller
Baritone Saxophone – Bob Gordon
Bass – Joe Mondragon
Drums – Shelly Manne
Piano – Russ Freeman
Tenor Saxophone – Jack Montrose
Trumpet – Chet Baker

1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 11 recorded december 14, 1953
3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13 recorded december 22, 1953,
recorded at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles
1-8 originally issued on Pacific Jazz (10") LP-9 in 1954
9 originally issued on Jazz West Cost - An Antology (JWC 500) in 1955
10, 13 originally issued on The Trumpet Artistry of Chet Baker (PJ 1209) in 1956
11, 12 originally issued on Grey December (CD 97160) in 1992

Chet Baker Ensemble collects all the tracks recorded by trumpeter Chet Baker and his group on a session for Pacific Jazz in late December of 1953. Having been released piecemeal on various albums over the years, this represents the first complete gathering of this material. Recorded less than two months before the legendary Chet Baker Sings sessions, these tracks showcase the young Baker as a hardcore jazz trumpeter before the public became overwhelmingly infatuated with his unique vocal abilities. Featuring first-rate "West Coast"-style arrangements by tenor saxophonist Jack Montrose -- who also composed many of the songs -- the septet seems to combine the jocular interplay of Baker's work with saxophonist Gerry Mulligan with the hip, swinging work popularized by the large ensembles of trumpeter Shorty Rogers. Besides Montrose, backing Baker here are saxophonists Herb Geller and Bob Gordon, bassist Joe Mondragon, drummer Shelly Manne, and pianist Russ Freeman. Rating alongside the best of Baker's catalog, Chet Baker Ensemble is a must-hear for both longtime fans and neophytes of the iconic trumpeter/vocalist's work.

Cool moody work from Chet Baker – a very unusual set that has him blowing with a larger group than usual! The set's real star is Jack Montrose – the great west coast arranger who had a perfect talent for taking horns and locking them up tight to create a sound full of gloss and surprise! Montrose plays tenor sax on the set – in a three sax section that also features Herb Geller and Bob Gordon – and the rest of the group includes Russ Freeman on piano, Shelly Manne on drums, and Joe Mondragon on bass. Chet's work is great too – but the real appeal of the set is the Montrose-styled groove – very nice all the way through!

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!