Chet Baker’s 1978 European tour with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Scott Lee, and drummer Jeff Brillinger produced several recordings of varying quality. Live at Nick’s is considered a classic, whereas Two a Day, recorded only one month later, is less consistently rewarding. The tapes on which Oh You Crazy Moon is based were recorded live in Stuttgart within the same few weeks as the Two a Day concerts, and are certainly worth hearing, if not quite essential.
You would never know this set was recorded entirely in Italy with Italian jazz musicians supporting Chet Baker if you didn't read the liner notes. Indeed, it sounds as if Baker gathered with his usual West Coast gang on some sunny California afternoon...
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 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…
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".
Remastered in 24-bit from the original master tapes. Part of our Keepnews Collection, which spotlights classic albums originally produced by the legendary Orrin Keepnews. Few figures in jazz history have been able to extract as much feeling from a ballad as Chet Baker. Despite his lack of formal training, he was capable of burrowing deep inside the most sophisticated popular songs and tapping a vein of pure emotion.
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.