An elegant and sophisticated pianist, his encyclopedic harmonic approach and wide range of his repertory made him one of the most distinctive jazz pianists to come out of Chicago, gaining the respect of local and visiting musicians for his notable mastery of the instrument.
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.
This is a wonderful, warm-hearted, and effortlessly virtuosic live recording by one of the finest living exponents of pre-bop small-ensemble jazz. With pianist Ray Kennedy and bassist Martin Pizzarelli (and on two songs joined by vocalist Grover Kemble), singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli runs through a generally lightweight but thoroughly charming set of standards, homages, funny stories, and the occasional original tune; the fast tunes are light and frothy, the ballads smooth and gentle, and even the moments that are less than utterly inspired work together with the album's highlights to create a very satisfying whole…
A nice compilation of jazz lounge, to spend the evening with a glass of fine wine.
Verve Records was originally the product of the vision of jazz impressario Norman Granz (1918-2001). He formed the label in 1956 and moved all of the recordings released on his earlier Norgran Records and Clef Records labels to create the new Verve catalog.
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".