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...
This collection compiles, for the first time ever on a single set, all existing studio recordings of Chet Baker singing from 1953 (his earliest vocal recordings) until 1962. The music on this CD puts Chet Baker on the scene not just as a brilliant trumpeter, but also as a talented singer. These songs were a revelation at the time and won Baker new fame and a new audience, which was less familiar with jazz than with pop music. The reasons are quite clear: Chet's voice is tender and beautiful, and at the same time his phrasing always swings and surprises. Among the contents of this set are the complete original albums Chet Baker Sings and Chet Baker Sings It Could Happen to You, plus all other existing studio vocal sides within that period.
Pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias pays tribute to legendary jazz trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker on her 2013 album I Thought About You. Featuring a selection of standards strongly associated with Baker, Elias mixes her native Brazilian bossa nova with swing, straight-ahead jazz, and even a few bluesy flourishes with much aplomb. Joining Elias are guitarists Steve Cardenas and Oscar Castro-Neves, bassist Marc Johnson, drummers Victor Lewis and Rafael Barata, and percussionist Marivaldo Dos Santos. Also adding more than a few moments of deft and thoughtful improvisation is Elias' former husband, trumpeter Randy Brecker.
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.
Reissue of Chet Baker Quintette - Chet Baker Quintette, released in 1963 on Crown Records. Chet Baker was a primary exponent of the West Coast school of cool jazz in the early and mid-'50s. As a trumpeter, he had a generally restrained, intimate playing style and he attracted attention beyond jazz for his photogenic looks and singing. Baker earned much attention and critical praise through the 1950s, particularly for albums featuring his vocals (Chet Baker Sings, It Could Happen to You). Jazz historian Dave Gelly described the promise of Baker's early career as "James Dean, Sinatra, and Bix, rolled into one." His well-publicized drug habit also drove his notoriety and fame; Baker was in and out of jail frequently before enjoying a career resurgence in the late 1970s and '80s.
For much of the last two decades of his life, Chet Baker seemed to go in the studios so often that one never knew what to expect. The results were a crapshoot, depending on whether or not Baker was suffering the effects of his drug addiction at the time. Fortunately, his friendship with Chicago-based pianist Bradley Young in the early 1980s gave the younger man an opportunity to sit in with the trumpeter. As a result, Young impulsively suggested a record date during a return engagement in 1986, which Baker accepted, though everything had to come together quickly within two days, including finding a studio and assembling a band. Oddly enough, everything works, from the fine rhythm section…
Baker began his comeback after five years of musical inactivity with this excellent CTI date. Highlights include "Autumn Leaves," "Tangerine," and "With a Song in My Heart." Altoist Paul Desmond is a major asset on two songs and the occasional strings give variety to this fine session.
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).
Artists House, a classy if short-lived label, released this attractive Chet Baker LP, a quintet date with tenor saxophonist Gregory Herbert, pianist Harold Danko, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Mel Lewis. The challenging material ("The Song Is You" is the only one of the five songs that is a standard) inspires the musicians to play creative solos. It is particularly interesting to hear Baker interpret the Wayne Shorter tune "ESP."