Sunday, November 25, 2018

Chet Baker - 1959 - Chet Baker Introduces Johnny Pace

Chet Baker 
Chet Baker Introduces Johnny Pace Accompanied By The Chet Baker Quintet

01. All Or Nothing At All
02. Crazy, She Calls Me
03. The Way You Look Tonight
04. This Is Always
05. When The Sun Comes Out
06. What Is There To Say
07. Everything I've Got Belongs To You
08. We Could Make Such Beautiful Music
09. It Might As Well Be Spring
10. Yesterdays

Bass – Jimmie Burke
Drums – "Philly" Joe Jones (tracks: A1, A2, B4), Ed Thigpen (tracks: A3 to B3, B5)
Flute – Herbie Mann
Piano – Joe Berle
Trumpet – Chet Baker
Vocals – Johnny Pace

Recorded in New York: December 23, 1958 (Tracks A1, A2, B4); December 29, 1958 (Tracks A3, A5, B1, B2); December 30, 1958 (Tracks A4, B3, B5).

The liner notes begin with this sentence: "It's hard to think of this album as anything short of the first major step towards real success for the exciting and appealing young singer being introduced here." Oh, well. The fact that Pace ended up, at best, a minor footnote in jazz history doesn't detract at all from the significant pleasures to be had on his 1958 debut. Supported by the Chet Baker Quintet (which at this point included flutist Herbie Mann, pianist Joe Berl, bassist Jimmie Burke, and, depending on the recording date, either Ed Thigpen or Philly Joe Jones on drums), Pace delivers a winning program of standards in a style that owes an obvious debt to Frank Sinatra, but distinguishes itself by means of fruitier tone and an occasionally pronounced vibrato. His renditions of "The Way You Look Tonight" and "It Might as Well Be Spring" are both completely charming, and the band supports him beautifully -- special kudos go to Mann, whose dry, swinging flute tone complement's Pace's voice perfectly. Recommended.

Chet Baker - 1959 - Chet

Chet Baker 

01. Alone Together 6:46
02. How High The Moon 3:31
03. It Never Entered My Mind 4:36
04. 'Tis Autumn 5:12
05. If You Could See Me Now 5:11
06. September Song 3:00
07. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 4:38
08. Time On My Hands (You In My Arms) 4:27
09. You And The Night And The Music 3:50
10. Early Morning Mood 9:00

Baritone Saxophone – Pepper Adams
Bass – Paul Chambers (3)
Drums – "Philly" Joe Jones (tracks: 4, 8, 9), Connie Kay (tracks: 1 to 3, 5 to 7, 10)
Flute – Herbie Mann (tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10)
Guitar – Kenny Burrell (tracks: 3, 6)
Piano – Bill Evans (tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 to 10)
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Originally released in 1959.
Recorded in New York City; December 30, 1958 and January 19, 1959.
Digitally remastered directly from the original analog master tapes, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA. Riverside Records.

When this album was recorded for Riverside, Baker's superstar status was already crumbling. Multi-poll winner in 1954, an extended stay in Europe 1955/56 and an intensifying heroin addiction had removed him pretty much from the US jazz scene. Technically, he had reached his zenith on the wonderful recordings for Barclay in Paris and the great Quartet with Russ Freeman in 1956; everything that followed was nice, but lukewarm in comparison. Riverside label boss Orrin Keepnews, who had "inherited" Baker through a deal with Baker's previous label Pacific Jazz, tried his best to record Baker in a variety of settings during their 4-album deal, but none of them -- neither the date with the New York hard boppers, nor the session of Lerner/Loewe musical hits, nor the vocal date -- really took off.

Chet, chronologically the third of these albums, was recorded during several sessions, with numerous changes in personnel and arrangements, and it's mostly a set of gentle ballads. The sidemen are among the best that Keepnews could summon -- Kenny Burrell, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, to name only a few.

What is pretty obvious is how high on heroin Baker was. On no other record did he quite manage to play in a similar kind of slow motion, always lagging a bit behind the (slow) beat, making this one of the first more obvious stoner records. The effect is, in fact, rather fascinating. Far from spoiling the album, it adds a different dimension to it, a strangely subdued atmosphere, the sleepy feeling of 1am in the morning, which is, by the way, the best time to listen to this album. It's also an album remarkably free of sentimentalism, but also of the "lyricism" referred to on the cover (which would imply a more lightweight mood).

Baker's performances are flawless, but subdued rather than inspired, slowed down rather than laid back. The several line-ups work, but strictly on a work level; there does not seem to be much of an emotional connection between the musicians here. Orrin Keepnews states in the liner notes that he tried a lot of things to create a good backing for Baker, but reading between the lines of the same notes, it becomes obvious that he didn't have too much of an idea what Baker's music was really about, and the fact that Baker broke into Riverside's record storage facility in search of something he could convert to money for drugs did not exactly deepen the relationship between them.

Chet therefore remains something of an oddity; a good record, but also one that does not really show what Baker was capable of; ultimately, is the first document of Baker's descent, which would get him into prison shortly afterwards and reach its lowest point eight years later with the loss of all of his teeth. Like watching a tragedy, listening to Chet is compelling and saddening at the same time -- I can see a lot of things in this album, but no matter how soft the focus on the cover photograph is, the one thing I cannot see is the sense of romanticism associated with Baker.

Chet Baker's penultimate session for Riverside -- which was strictly instrumental -- produced an all-star lineup to support him, including jazz heavyweights Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, and Kenny Burrell. Each of them makes important contributions to the session. Adams' baritone sax solo on "Alone Together" is one of the album's high points, while Herbie Mann and Bill Evans make their presence known on several cuts. Baker possessed one of the most melodious trumpets in jazz, compelling in its simplicity. Rarely extending his range above a single octave, he nonetheless had few peers when it came to slow, romantic ballads, which make up the playlist here. His characteristically soft approach is heard to good effect on "It Never Entered My Mind," where he works with the guitar of Kenny Burrell. Burrell and Baker also collaborate on a moving rendition of "September Song." Chet is a good place to hear Baker's special way with the horn, and is made even more attractive with the presence and contributions of top jazz artists.

Chet Baker - 1959 - Chet Baker Sings And Plays With Len Mercer And His Orchestra: Angel Eyes

Chet Baker 
Chet Baker Sings And Plays With Len Mercer And His Orchestra: Angel Eyes

1959 Italian LP release:

01. I Should Care 2:46
02. Violets For Your Fur 3:20
03. The Song Is You 2:33
04. When I Fall In Love 3:38
05. Good-Bye 5:07
06. Autumn In New York 3:35
07. Angel Eyes 4:38
08. Street Of Dreams 2:30
09. Forgetful 2:48
10. Deep In A Dream 4:35

2002 CD release

01. I Should Care 2:46
02. Violets For Your Furs 3:20
03. The Song Is You 2:33
04. When I Fall In Love 3:38
05. Goodbye 5:07
06. Autumn In New York 3:35
07. Angel Eyes 4:38
08. Street Of Dreams 2:30
09. Forgetful 2:48
10. Deep In A Dream 4:35
11. Lady Bird 4:45
12. Cheryl Blues 4:58
13. Tune Up 5:16
14. Line For Lyons 7:42


Chet Baker, trumpet, vocals
Mario Pezzotta, trombone
Glauco Maseti, alto sax
Fausto Papeti, baritone sax
Giulio Libano, piano
Franco Ceri, bass
Gene Victor, drums

Milano, September 28 & 29, 1959


Chet Baker, trumpet
Glauco Maseti, alto sax
Gianni Basso, tenor sax
Renato Selani, piano
Franco Ceri, bass
Gene Victor, drums

Milano, September 26, 1959.

Recorded on September 28 and October 5, 1959 at the Gurtler Bros. Studio, Milan.

Released in the USA in 1960 as Chet Baker With Fifty Italian Strings, Reissued in Italy in 1967 as Chet Baker Sings And Plays, in 2002 in Brasil as 1959 Milano Sessions

Chet plays and sings standards with an orchestra, similar to Chet with Italian strings album. He plays well and sings in tune (not always the case elsewhere). "Autumn in New York" is quite poignant. "Good-bye" is heartfelt, as is "Angel Eyes". Music is romantic, pop, and nonchallenging. Most songs are instrumental, a few have vocals too.
Relocating to Italy in 1959 meant that Baker got out of the reach of record producer Orrin Keepnews, with whom he still had a deal for two records. These were eventually recorded in 1959 in Milan and subsequently issued on Riverside's Jazzland imprint.

Without an American producer to watch over him, Baker simply did what he liked to do; one of these projects was an attempt to repeat the success of Chet Baker & Strings that he had recorded for Columbia five years earlier.

Unfortunately, this album turned out to be more of a foreshadowing of the awful albums he would record with the Carmel Strings about eight years later. The arrangements don't really take into account the delicate nature of Baker's singing and trumpet playing, and more often than not lie heavily on the music, suppressing the gentle nuances underneath them.

Chet Baker & Stan Getz - 1958 - Stan Meets Chet

Chet Baker & Stan Getz 
Stan Meets Chet

01. I'll Remember April  DePaul, Johnston, Raye  12:24
02. Autumn in New York/Embraceable You/What's New?  Duke  14:34
03. Jordu  Jordan  8:31
04. Half-Breed Apache

Bass – Victor Sproles
Drums – Marshall Thompson
Piano – Jodie Christian
Tenor Saxophone – Stan Getz
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded Chicago February 16, 1958.

Recorded at Robert Oaks Jordan And Associates Recorders, Chicago, Illinois on February 16, 1958. Originally released on Verve (8263). Includes liner notes by James Isaacs and ...    Full DescriptionNat Hentoff.

Stan Getz is cool: he sounds like he is playing the tenor with one hand while rolling a cigarette with the other. He is so cool that when the notes come out of his horn they are wearing shades. Trouble is, I'm unsure whether this is a good thing or not. Getz was one of the first jazz musicians I ever heard of but although I read that he was one of the greats I've never found the evidence (which doesn't mean it's not out there): no one could doubt his technical command of the instrument, and although I'm not saying all tenor players have to be intense in a Coltrane way, Getz seems so relaxed I'm uncertain he would get out of bed to open the door to a new idea. And so it is on this album. Listen to Jordu, I can't think of one thing to say against his playing.

Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and trumpeter Chet Baker never particularly liked each other and, even though they had musically compatible styles, they only worked together briefly in three periods. Their mutual hostility can be felt in subtle ways on this session which has been reissued on CD. Getz ignores Baker's attempt to state the melody of "I'll Remember April" and he plays it himself several bars after. The two horns do not meet at all on the ballad medley and, since Baker sits out on "Jordu," they only play together on two of the four performances. Getz battles a squeaky reed on "I'll Remember April" and Baker seems a bit subpar in general although he really digs in on "Half-Breed Apache" (a very fast "Cherokee"). So overall this CD (which also includes pianist Jodie Christian, bassist Victor Sproles, and drummer Marshall Thompson), even with some good moments, does not live up to its potential.