Sunday, November 18, 2018

Chet Baker - 1956 - Chet Baker Big Band

Chet Baker 
1956
Chet Baker Big Band 


1956 LP Release:
01. A Foggy Day 3:25
02. Mythe 4:20
03. Worrying The Life Out Of Me 5:20
04. Chet 3:52
05. Not Too Slow 3:49
06. Phil's Blues 4:34
07. Darn That Dream 3:26
08. Dinah 4:35
09. V-Line 4:08
10. Tenderly 3:22

1993 CD Release:
01. Tenderly 4:04
02. A Foggy Day 3:29
03. Darn That Dream 3:31
04. Mythe 4:26
05. Chet 4:11
06. Not Too Slow 3:53
07. Phil's Blues 4:38
08. Dinah 4:41
09. V-Line 3:25
10. Worrying The Life Out Of Me 5:23
11. Little Man You've Had A Busy Day 4:45
12. Dot's Groovy 4:35
13. Stella By Starlight 3:55
14. Tommyhawk 3:42
15. I'm Glad There Is You 3:15
16. The Half Dozens 4:10

Alto Saxophone – Art Pepper (tracks: 1 to 4)
Alto Saxophone – Bud Shank (tracks: 1 to 4)
Alto Saxophone – Fred Waters (tracks: 5 to 10)
Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Phil Urso (tracks: 5 to 10)
Baritone Saxophone – Bill Hood (tracks: 5 to 10)
Baritone Saxophone – Bud Shank (tracks: 11 to 16)
Bass – Carson Smith (tracks: 11 to 16)
Bass – Jimmy Bond (tracks: 1 to 10)
Drums – James McLean (tracks: 10)
Drums – Lawrence Marable (tracks: 1 to 4)
Drums – Peter Littman (tracks: 5 to 9)
Drums – Shelly Manne (tracks: 11 to 16)
Piano – Bobby Timmons (tracks: 1 to 10)
Piano – Russ Freeman (tracks: 11 to 16)
Tenor Saxophone – Bill Perkins (tracks: 1 to 4)
Tenor Saxophone – Bob Graf (tracks: 5 to 10)
Tenor Saxophone – Phil Urso (tracks: 1 to 4)
Trombone – Bob Burgess (tracks: 5 to 10)
Trombone – Frank Rosolino (tracks: 1 to 4)
Trumpet – Chet Baker, Conte Candoli (tracks: 1 to 4)
Trumpet – Norman Raye (tracks: 1 to 4)
Valve Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer (tracks: 11 to 16)

Recorded in Los Angeles on October 26 (#1-4) and 18 (#5-10), 1956 and September 9 (#12, 14, 16) and 15 (#11, 13, 15), 1954.
All selections are mono
#1-10 originally issued on Pacific Jazz PJ 1229, #11-16 originally issued on Pacific Jazz (10" LP) LP 15.


Although this album is titled “Chet Baker Big Band” the groups are only of moderate size, eleven and nine piece aggregations though this does not detract from the quality of the music The bonus tracks consist of two Octets and one sextet which are welcome and give a further dimension to the album.

Chet Baker is a much more forceful player on these sides than he was with his own Quartet and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet where is playing was more reflective and slightly hesitant.

 The album opens with a sprightly arrangement by Jimmy Heath of the standard “A Foggy Day” which has some hard hitting trumpet by Chet and pithy contributions by Phil Urso on tenor and Bobby Timmons at the piano, a fine start to the album.

There is a glorious arrangement by Phil Urso of the old Miff Mole tune “Worryin’ the Life Out of Me” which gets to the heart of the song and features the leader in marvellous form and has short but telling contributions from the arranger on tenor and Bobby Timmons on piano but it is Chet who shines.
Phil Urso’s  arrangement of his own composition “Phil’s Blues” is a swinger and apart from himself on tenor Bud Shank’s booting baritone adds to the proceedings.
The ballad “Darn That Dream” a favourite of Baker’s is arranged by Jimmy Heath and Chet delivers with a tasteful solo, there is also some nice section work by the saxophones.

Apart from Chet’s hard hitting trumpet on the medium paced “Tenderly” it is Art Pepper’s alto which steals the show on Jimmy Heath’s splendid arrangement.

The six Sextet sides are a real bonus with some wonderful solos from Bud Shank on baritone, Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone and Russ Freeman on piano all driven along by the tasteful Shelly Manne on drums.

These six tracks consist of three originals and three standards, of the standards “Stella by Starlight” is the most interesting and apart from Chet there are interesting solos from Bud Shank and Bob Brookmeyer as well as a typical romping piano solo by Russ Freeman.

On the face of it “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day” is an unlikely source of material but it works surprisingly well with a good Bob Brookmeyer solo.
The three originals are written by Bill Holman, Johnny Mandel, and Jack Montrose, it is Bill Holman’s lively “The Half Dozens” which stands out with great solos by all the front line. Not far behind is Johnny Mandel’s “Tommyhawk” and it’s Russ Freeman’s stomping piano solo which stands out.

The four tracks recorded in Paris with French musicians do not have the same immediacy as the Sextet tracks but nevertheless have some good solos from Chet Baker.and are well worth inclusion on the album.

The whole album provides some fine music and Chet Baker is playing at the top of his form and is therefore highly recommended.

More Info: HERE

Chet Baker - 1956 - Chet Baker And His Quintet With Bobby Jaspar

Chet Baker
1956
Chet Baker And His Quintet With Bobby Jaspar



01. How About You
02. Once In A While
03. Chekeetah
04. Alone Together
05. Chet
06. Dinah
07. Tasty Pudding
08. Anticipated Blues
09. Vline
10. Exitus

Reissued in 1959 as I Get Chet

Alto Saxophone – Teddy Hameline
Baritone Saxophone – William Boucaya
Bass – Benoit Quersin
Drums – Pierre Lemarchand
Piano – Francy Bolland
Tenor Saxophone – Armand Migiani
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Bobby Jaspar
Trombone – Benny Vasseur
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded at Studio Pathe-Magellan in Paris, between Tuesday October, 25th, 1955 and February, 10th, 1956.

This session was recorded at Studio Pathé-Magellan in Paris, between Tuesday October, 25th, 1955 and February, 10th, 1956. This record is the third and last record for the Barclay label.


In answer to an offer from Nicole Barclay, Chet Baker arrived in Paris early in September 1955. On the 22nd – or maybe the 23rd – he signed a contract to make seven records… (The figure was later erased and replaced by «three», which turned out to be correct). Released after the trumpeter’s return to the USA, this last volume was construed as rather a poor relation opposite the others in the trilogy, all the more so because, hurriedly drafted, the sleeve-notes did little to render unto Caesar the things which were Caesar’s. Unlike the earlier opuses, this one was in no way a concept-album: it contented itself with a simple overview of Chet’s Parisian associations, depending on where his fancies took him in the course of his stay. When Chet entered the Studio Pathé-Magellan on October 25th, only one member of his original accompanying trio was still present: pianist Dick Twardzik had died of an overdose, and drummer Peter Littman had returned home after selling his kit for whatever it would fetch. Jimmy Bond and his contrabass, however, were both still there, and in the ensuing octet session Chet’s melodic gifts were magnified by (remarkable) scores penned by Pierre Michelot – ‘Chet’, ‘Dinah’ – and Christian Chevalier ‘Vline’. The three pièces were mini-concertos, and the trumpeter loved them so much that he decided to do them again back in America… but not so successfully. On November 28th Chet went back into the same studio, this time with Raymond Fol on piano, Benoît Quersin on bass and Jean-Louis Viale on drums. They recorded two improvisations: the first was based on a 1932 standard from Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, ‘Alone Together’, while the second began with ‘Exitu’s, a composition written by one of Baker’s friends, Phil Urso. The performances are among the most beautiful that Chet produced during this period, along with ‘Chekeetah’ – or ‘Chik-Etah’ – and ‘How about You?’ which put the seal on a partnership that had first come to light at the Club Saint-Germain, temporarily rechristened for the occasion: «Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 16h30 to 19h30 at the Barclay’s Club – 13 rue Saint-Benoît, Paris – Bobby Jaspar Quintet with American trumpeter Chet Baker,» read the sign. The format was stylistically ideal, leading Chet to abandon the quartet format he’d preferred up until then. To respect his next bookings, Chet had to get a stable band together, and as his pianist he chose Raph Schecroun – later known as Errol Parker – who was himself replaced by Francy Boland. Alongside him were bassist Eddie de Haas, who’d previously been with Martial Solal and Henri Renaud (the latter, in the adventure, also lost his regular drummer, Charles Saudrais, who was just seventeen. According to Jean-Louis Chautemps, “When Bobby Jaspar couldn’t do it or just wanted too much, they looked for someone cheaper; and that was me. There wasn’t really an audition: we were in the Tabou, I played with Chet, he said OK and, two days later, we found ourselves in Reykjavik, Iceland.” The tune ‘Tasty Puddin’g written by Al Cohn and ‘Anticipated Blues’, one of the rare pieces Chet claimed to have written, were in the repertoire played by this last Baker-led formation on the Old Continent.

Both pieces, once again, moved Pierre Michelot to pass judgement: «With ordinary means, Chet managed to play phrases of extraordinary beauty with simplicity and clarity ».
Text – Alain Tercinet

Considering that only four of these tracks were recorded with a quintet and that only two of the tracks feature Bobby Jaspar, the title of this album is rather at odds with reality.

This, Baker's last of three albums for Eddie Barclay, is much less a concept album than the preceding two (Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 1, consisting entirely of Bob Zieff compositions, and Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 2, consisting entirely of standards); in fact it was something of a contractual obligation album. With all of his former band members except Jimmy Bond departed (and pianist Dick Twardzik dead after a heroin overdose), this album, recorded in four sessions between October 1955 and February 1956, could be a hodgepodge of styles and sound, but it holds together very well; indeed, just like Baker's other two Paris albums, it contains some of his finest material recorded in the 1950s. "Alone Together", "Dinah", "Vline" and "Exitus" are perfect examples of his musical maturity, and "Everything Happens to Me" (not on the original album, but included on this version as a bonus track) shows his most heartfelt singing to date.

Finally reissued on CD in perfect mastering, this, along with Chet's other Paris recordings, should be in every fan's collection.

Chet Baker - 1956 - Chet Baker & Crew

Chet Baker
1956
Chet Baker & Crew


1956 LP:
01. To Mickey's Memory 3:46
02. Slightly Above Moderate 6:57
03. Halema 4:34
04. Revelation 3:57
05. Something For Liza 4:03
06. Lucius Lu 5:34
07. Worrying The Life Out Of Me 3:00
08. Medium Rock 5:30

1993 CD:
01. To Mickey's Memory 5:12
02. Slightly Above Moderate 6:59
03. Halema 3:51
04. Revelation 3:58
05. Something For Liza 4:05
06. Lucius Lu 5:34
07. Worryin' The Life Out Of Me 2:59
08. Medium Rock 5:30
09. To Mickey's Memory (Alt. Take) 5:25
10. Jumpin' Off A Clef 4:55
11. Chippyin' 3:20
12. Pawnee Junction 4:01
13. Music To Dance By 4:35
14. Line For Lyons 2:48

Bass – Jimmy Bond
Drums – Peter Littman
Liner Notes – Woody Woodward
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Phil Urso
Timpani [Chromatic Tympani] – Bill Loughbrough (tracks: 1, 9, 12)
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles on July 24, 25 and 31, 1956.
#1-8 originally issued on Pacific Jazz PJ 1224/ST 1004.
#10 & 11 originally issued on Jazz West Coast 508.
#12 & 13 originally issued on Crown CST 7317.
#9 & 14 previously unissued.


The numbers heard on Chet Baker & Crew were among a prolific flurry of recordings Baker was involved in during the last week of July 1956 -- fresh from an extended European stay. Sessions were held every day from the 23rd through the 31st, which resulted in such classic titles as The Route, Chet Baker Sings, and At the Forum Theater -- which is also available under the title Young Chet -- as well as Chet Baker & Crew. The crew on these sides includes Phil Urso (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano), Jimmy Bond (bass), Peter Littman (drums), and of course Baker (trumpet/vocals). Joining the combo on both the original as well as the alternate take of "To Mickey's Memory" and "Pawnee Junction" is Bill Loughbrough (chromatic tympani). His unmistakable percussive accents and tuned drum solos give these West Coast bop tracks uniquely Polynesian intonations. The bandmembers take full advantage of their individual roles and abilities as soloists to really stretch out on "Slightly Above Moderate" and the Urso-credited composition "Halema" -- named after Baker's wife. The chemistry of cool that flows between Urso and Baker is perhaps at its finest during the seamless exchange heard on "Worryin' the Life Out of Me." Timmons also boasts notable contributions throughout. His playful and scampering style dresses up the bluesy "Lucius Lu" and "Line for Lyons," among others. The latter is also notable as it contains the sole Baker vocal on this set.

Chet Baker - 1956 - Chet Baker & Art Pepper: Playboys

Chet Baker 
1956 
Chet Baker & Art Pepper: Playboys


1957 LP:
01. For Minors Only 3:59
02. Minor-Yours 6:40
03. Resonant Emotions 5:41
04. Tynan Tyme 5:31
05. Picture Of Heath 6:44
06. For Miles And Miles 6:24
07. C.T.A. 5:09

2008 CD:
01. For Minors Only 4:02
02. Minor Yours 6:44
03. Resonant Emotions 5:42
04. Tynan Time 5:32
05. Picture Of Heath 6:45
06. For Miles And Miles 6:26
07. C.T.A. 5:14
08. Tynan Time 6:19
09. Little Girl 4:17
10. Minor Yours 7:14
11. Sonny Boy 3:57
12. The Route 5:04

Alto Saxophone – Art Pepper
Bass – Curtis Counce (tracks: 1 to 7), Leroy Vinnegar (tracks: 8 to 12)
Drums – Lawrence Marable (tracks: 1 to 7), Stan Levey (tracks: 8 to 12)
Piano – Carl Perkins (4) (tracks: 1 to 7), Pete Jolly (tracks: 8 to 12)
Tenor Saxophone – Phil Urso (tracks: 1 to 7), Richie Kamuca (tracks: 8 to 12)
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Tracks 1 to 7 recorded at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles, November 20 & 21, 1956.
Tracks 8 to 12 recorded at the Forum Theatre, Los Angeles, July 26 & 28, 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 type face 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. 


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.

Chet Baker - 1955 - The Trumpet Artistry Of Chet Baker

Chet Baker
1955
The Trumpet Artistry Of Chet Baker



01. I'm Glad There Is You
02. Moon Love
03. Moonlight Becomes You
04. Imagination
05. Little Man You've Had A Busy Day
06. Goodbye
07. All The Things You Are
08. No Ties
09. Happy Little Sunbeam
10. Bea's Flat
11. Russ Job
12. Tommy Hawk

Baritone Saxophone – Bob Gordon (tracks: 3, 6)
Baritone Saxophone – Bud Shank (tracks: 1, 5, 12)
Bass – Carson Smith (tracks: 2, 4, 7 to 11)
Bass – Joe Mondragon (tracks: 3, 6)
Drums – Bob Neel (tracks: 2, 4, 7 to 11)
Drums – Larry Bunker (tracks: 2, 4, 7 to 11)
Drums – Shelly Manne (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 6, 12)
Piano – Russ Freeman
Tenor Saxophone – Herb Geller (tracks: 3, 6)
Tenor Saxophone – Jack Montrose (tracks: 3, 6)
Trumpet – Chet Baker
Valve Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer


Although Chet Baker was becoming as famous for his singing as he was for his trumpet playing at the time this LP was issued, no vocal numbers were selected on The Trumpet Artistry of Chet Baker. As its title indicates and as producer Richard Bock confirmed in the original liner notes, the album was intended to showcase Baker’s best trumpet performances up to that date. Bock compiled unissued takes by Chet’s quartet with Russ Freeman (which were different from the ones previously released on EPs and 10-inch LPs), selected material from the Ensemble and Sextet dates, as well as a live quartet performance of “Russ Job” from a 1954 concert at the Tiffany Club (which, in its complete form, would only be issued several decades later). While the source material here is varied, the leader’s trumpet playing and Russ Freeman’s piano give the recordings a sense of unity, resulting in an interesting showcase of Chet’s instrumental skills at this early stage of his career.

A classic Pacific Jazz album, one that features Chet Baker laying back in three different ensembles – a quartet (with Russ Freeman), sextet (with Bud Shank and Bob Brookmeyer), and septet (with Jack Montrose, Herb Geller, and Bob Gordon). Arrangements are by Freeman, Montrose, and Johnny Mandel – and the set list includes a few strong originals, plus other familiar numbers, all done in the warmly intimate style of Baker's best early work.

Chet Baker - 1955 - Sings And Plays With Bud Shank, Russ Freeman And Strings

Chet Baker
1955
Sings And Plays With Bud Shank, Russ Freeman And Strings


01. Let's Get Lost
02. This Is Always
03. Long Ago And Far Away
04. Someone To Watch Over Me
05. Just Friends
06. I Wish I Knew
07. Daybreak
08. You Don't Know What Love Is
09. Grey December
10. I Remember You

Bass – Carson Smith, Red Mitchell
Drums – Bob Neel
Flute – Bud Shank
Harp – Corky Hale
Piano – Russ Freeman
Trumpet, Vocals – Chet Baker

Tracks 2, 4, 6, 9, recorded in L.A., February 28, 1955
Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 recorded in L.a., March 7, 1955


With the growing popularity of Chet Baker's first vocal album, Chet Baker Sings, Pacific Jazz producer Richard Bock wanted to capitalize on both facets of his young star's abilities. Hence, the trumpeter turned vocalist entered the studio in 1955 with both his quartet featuring pianist Russ Freeman and an expanded sextet including bassist Red Mitchell, Bud Shank on flute, and various string players. The resulting album, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, helped set in stone the image of Baker as the jazz world's matinee idol and icon of '50s West Coast cool. His laid-back style -- a mix of '30s crooner and Miles Davis' nonet recordings -- appealed in its immediacy to a jazz public tiring of the hyper, athletic musicality of bebop. Similarly, his plaintive, warm trumpet sound was the more sensitive antidote to such brassy kings as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. Others artists had performed many of these standards before, but as with "My Funny Valentine" on Chet Baker Sings, tracks like "Let's Get Lost," "Long Ago and Far Away," and "Just Friends" became definitively associated with Baker for the rest of his career. Chet Baker Sings and Chet Baker Sings and Plays are not only the two most important albums of Baker's career, but are classics of jazz. [The 2004 EMI reissue of Chet Baker Sings and Plays includes an EP version of "Let's Get Lost" not included on the original album.]

The amazing Chet Baker (1929-1988) shined both as a trumpet player and as a singer. This fact is widely accepted today, but when the first sessions featuring him on vocals were issued, it was quite a surprise. Both his trumpet and voice seem to be extensions of the same musical personality, and once you’ve become familiar with the dual facets of Baker, you expect to hear them both. With the growing popularity of his first vocal album," Chet Baker Sings", Pacific Jazz producer Richard Bock wanted to capitalize on both sides of his young star’s abilities. Hence, the trumpeter turned vocalist entered the studio in 1955 with both his quartet, featuring pianist Russ Freeman, and an expanded sextet including bassist Red Mitchell, Bud Shank on flute, and various string players.

The resulting album, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, helped set in stone the image of Baker as the jazz world’s matinee idol and icon of ‘50s West Coast cool. His laid-back style, a mix of ‘30s crooner and Miles Davis’ nonet recordings, appealed in its immediacy to a jazz public tiring of the hyper, athletic musicality of bebop. Similarly, his plaintive, warm trumpet sound was the more sensitive antidote to such brassy kings as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. William Claxton’s distinctive collage cover for "Chet Baker Sings" and Plays" also became a classic in its own right.

Chet Baker - 1955 - Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker

Chet Baker 
1955 
Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker


01. Frenesi 3:05
02. Nights At The Turntable 2:48
03. Lullaby Of The Leaves 3:15
04. Jeru 2:26
05. Cherry 2:57
06. Swinghouse 2:52
07. I May Be Wrong 2:55
08. Aren't You Glad You're You 2:52
09. I'm Beginning To See The Light 3:02
10. The Nearness Of You 2:48
11. Makin' Whoopee 3:22
12. Tea For Two 2:45


Baritone Saxophone – Gerry Mulligan
Bass – Bob Whitlock (tracks: A1 to A3, B2), Carson Smith (tracks: A4 to A6, B1, B3 to B6)
Drums – Chico Hamilton (tracks: A1 to A3, B2), Larry Bunker (tracks: A4 to A6, B1, B3 to B6)
Trumpet – Chet Baker


A full LP that collects together earlier recordings by Mulligan – done in the years 1952 and 1953, with a quartet that features Chet Baker, and bass by either Carson Smith or Bob Whitlock, and drums by either Larry Bunker or Chico Hamilton. Both Mulligan and Baker recorded together a number of times after this, in a "reunion" style that hearkened back to the fame of these sides – but the originals are still the best, and feature a magical pairing of two gentle jazz talents in a laidback piano-less setting.

Chet Baker - 1955 - Jazz At Ann Harbor

Chet Baker
1955 
Jazz At Ann Harbor



1955 LP:
01. Line For Lyons
02. Lover Man
03. My Funny Valentine
04. Maid In Mexico
05. Stella By Starlight
06. My Old Flame
07. Headline
08. Russ Job

CD:
01. Announcement
02. Line For Lyons
03. Lover Man
04. My Funny Valentine
05. Maid In Mexico
06. Stella By Starlight
07. My Old Flame
08. Headline
09. Russ Job
10. Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart
11. My Little Suede Shoes
12. Line For Lyons
13. My Old Flame
14. Everything Happens To Me

Tracks 1 to 9 are recorded at the Masonic Temple , Ann Arbor, Michigin, May 9, 1954.
Tracks 10 to 14 are Bonus Tracks and recorded at the Tiffany Club, Los Angeles, August 10, 1954.

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

This set was recorded live May 9, 1954, at the Masonic Temple in Ann Arbor, MI, and released the following year. The quartet is the leader with pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Carson Smith and drummer Bob Neel.


Chet Baker was arguably at the peak of his prowess when captured in a quartet setting at the Masonic Temple in Ann Arbor, MI, May 9, 1954. He's joined by Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass) and Bob Neel (drums), all of whom provide ample assistance without ever obscuring their leader's laid-back and refined style. Baker's sublime sounds also garnered notice from critics, who had placed him atop polls in both Metronome and Down Beat magazines the previous year. Evidence of these lauds are obvious upon listening to the combo as they nestle into one of the cornerstones in their repertoire, the suave "Line for Lyons" -- a track dating back to the artist's short-lived yet genre defining work with the song's author, Gerry Mulligan. Almost immediately after establishing the melodic theme, Baker dives into his trademark solos. The fluidity throughout the seemingly off-the-cuff excursions presents confirmation of both his unquestionable timing and understated subtle authority. The rhythm section ably follows the improvisations with solid, yet never overpowering support. Freeman also shines throughout, especially during the stately opening to "Lover Man" or the up-tempo jiving "Maid in Mexico." Other classics include the stark intimacy of Baker's signature "My Funny Valentine," as well as respectively frisky renditions of "Stella by Starlight" and Freeman's own crowd-pleasing "Russ Job." In 2000, these eight cuts were coupled with five additional previously unreleased sides from the Carlton Theatre in Los Angeles circa August of 1953. The results were Quartet Live, Vol. 1: This Time the Dream's on Me (2000), the first of three archival volumes featuring Baker during his initial reign as the poster child for West coast cool jazz.