This highly enjoyable 1993 CD issue compiles the original six-song Chet Baker Sextet 10" EP as well as the Chet Baker Big Band 12" album. Although these two sessions were held more than two years apart, this was due primarily to an extended European tour during the intervening months and Baker's obvious unavailability stateside. Releasing an entire album under the moniker Chet Baker Big Band is a bit of a misnomer, as only the first four sides actually incorporate an 11-person configuration. The remaining tracks from the long-player feature a slightly smaller nonet configuration. Among the luminaries joining Baker (trumpet) and participating in the big-band arrangements are Art Pepper (alto sax), Bud Shank (alto sax), Phil Urso (tenor sax), and Bobby Timmons (piano).
Whether as a trumpeter or singer, Chet Baker was always the subject of controversy among jazz listeners, a victim of fashion who was doomed in his lifetime to be either over- or underrated. These Pacific Jazz recordings from the mid-1950s present Baker the instrumentalist at the height of his popularity. While his coolly passive treatments of ballads like "Imagination" and "Stella by Starlight" may play to the languid stereotype of West Coast jazz, there's boppish fire and invention on the medium- and up-tempo tunes, with Baker emphasizing the middle register that was his forte. Altoist Art Pepper and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer turn up among the supporting cast, and there's a good choice of material by boppish heads from both coasts, including Carson Smith's "Carson City Stage," Jimmy Heath's "C.T.A.," and Al Haig's "Jumping Off a Clef".
Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, several bonus tracks on nearly each disc (some previously unreleased) and new liner notes providing historical context to the original material, the series celebrates the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records, the prolific New York-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1950s and '60s.
This is one of the last Chet Baker (trumpet) long players recorded in the States prior to the artist relocating to Europe in the early '60s. Likewise, the eight-tune collection was the final effort issued during his brief association with the Riverside Records imprint. The project was undoubtedly spurred on by the overwhelming success of the Shelly Manne-led combo that interpreted titles taken from the score to My Fair Lady (1956). In addition to becoming an instant classic, Manne's LP was also among of the best-selling jazz platters of all time.
This was the perfect setting during his later years. The trumpeter (who also sings on two of the six songs) sounds very relaxed and comfortable while accompanied by the duo of guitarist Doug Raney and bassist Niels Pedersen, taking some consistently lyrical solos on the six standards.
At this 1974 concert baritonist Gerry Mulligan and trumpeter Chet Baker had one of their very rare reunions; it would be only the second and final time that they recorded together after Mulligan's original quartet broke up in 1953. Oddly enough, a fairly contemporary rhythm section was used (keyboardist Bob James, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Harvey Mason, and in one of his first recordings, guitarist John Scofield). However, some of the old magic was still there between the horns, and in addition to two of Mulligan's newer tunes, this set (the first of two volumes) also includes fresh versions of "Line for Lyons" and "My Funny Valentine."
West coast cool purveyors Chet Baker (trumpet) and Bud Shank team up to provide the incidental soundtrack to The James Dean Story (1958). Granted, the biopic was presumably made to cash in on the actor's untimely demise, but movie buffs also recognize it as one of director Robert Altman's earliest features. The score was written by Leith Stevens, who had previously worked on Private Hell 36 (1954), The Wild One (1954), and the Oscar-winning sci-fi classic Destination Moon (1950). Those credentials may have gotten Stevens the gig, but his contributions remain somewhat of a double-edged sword.
This 2012 disc gathers all known sides cut during a July 26, 1956 confab led by West Coast cool purveyors Chet Baker (trumpet) and Art Pepper (alto sax). Keen-eyed enthusiasts will note that this particular date occurred during a remarkable week – July 23 through July 31 – of sessions held at the behest of Pacific Jazz label owner and producer Dick Bock at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles. Recordings made during this week not only inform The Route, but three other long-players as well: Let's Get Lost, Chet Baker & Crew, and At the Forum Theater. These were likewise the first sides cut by Baker since returning from his triumphant and extended stay in Europe.