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.
Having been reissued numerous times over the years under various titles, this Bluebird version of Chet Is Back! stands out as the definitive packaging of one of Chet Baker's best early-'60s recordings. Besides featuring the original artwork and liner notes – as well as detailed new liner notes from James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker – the real impetus to pick this up is the inclusion of four orchestral pop singles Baker recorded with Ennio Morricone around the same time as the album. Never before released in the U.S., these tracks were purportedly composed by the trumpeter/vocalist while serving jail time in Lucca, Italy after obtaining fake drug prescriptions.
In the summer of 1955, Chet Baker decided to go on a concert tour of Europe for a few weeks. He ended up staying there for more than six months, and his work and experiences during that time, which was mostly spent in Paris, should be crucial for his career and his life.
This is a rare album Chet Baker recorded in Belgium in 1980 with Steve Houben when he came from Paris and went to Holland and died shorty after. It was only released in Belgium and France in MICRO quantities.
The quality of Chet Baker's product was so varied during the last decade or more of his life that recording sessions varied markedly. For this "remixed version" of Mr. B Baker sounds a tad tired, though his chops are in fine form. The studio recording captures the trumpeter with highly sympathetic and self-effacing pianist Michel Grallier and bassist Ricardo Del Fra, both of whom engage in the leader's brand of sensitivity. There are no vocals by the trumpeter, but plenty of improvising. The interesting tune selection features a few songs played often by Baker (such as Wayne Shorter's "Dolphin Dance" and Horace Silver's "Strollin'"), but several that are not associated with him at all (Grallier's "White Blues" and his gorgeous "Father X-mas," to name a couple). There is a sadness permeating the trumpeter's sound throughout, exacerbated by the lazy, sometimes sluggish, tempos. A deep and touching beauty can be felt, marking this as one of Chet's best from the period.
Chet Baker's West Coast cool comes to the Big Apple on Chet Baker in New York. The project would be Baker's first – in a four album deal – with the Big Apple-based Riverside Records. The bicoastal artist incorporates his decidedly undernourished sound and laid-back phrasing into the styling of Al Haig (piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums)…
This Is Jazz, Vol. 2 isn't an ideal overview of Chet Baker's seminal Columbia recordings, but it isn't bad, either. Many of the featured 16 songs are among Baker's very best, giving novices a good idea of the sound, style, and depth of his music, even if it doesn't provide an ideal context. Nevertheless, This Is Jazz doesn't intend to provide context, which will undoubtedly frustrate collectors and jazz purists…