Although Chet Baker's recordings from late in his life varied dramatically in quality, this series of studio sessions is a high point in his career. After having his trumpet stolen, he plays beautifully with a borrowed flügelhorn throughout most of these songs with a powerful tone, especially on "Baby Breeze" and Hal Galper's intense "This Is the Thing." Baker delivers some strong vocals on the session led by pianist Bobby Scott, though Scott's huge hit "A Taste of Honey" is marred somewhat by his odd honky tonk piano in the background.
This is a very under-rated album. The complaints are that the strings are too syrupy, yet one of Chet's most critically successful albums was Chet With Strings. This album is just as good as that one or Grey December, which also has strings. In fact, while all the songs are very good, it's worth buying just for Sammy Cahn's "I Should Care", Chet playing the BEST version of that song I have ever heard, with a GREAT string arrangement!! If you like Chet, even casually, you can't go wrong with this charming album.
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.
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)…
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".
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.