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Vocal Jazz - Released May 20, 2013 | Le Chant du Monde

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
The 2013 Chet Baker compilation Chet Sings: The Early Years brings together many of the legendary jazz singer/trumpeter's best early recordings. These are classic examples of '50s West Coast jazz recorded when Baker was leading his own quartet after parting ways with saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. Included are such songs as "But Not for Me," "There Will Never Be Another You," "My Funny Valentine," and others. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Riverside

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
The ultra-hip and sophisticated "cool jazz" that Chet Baker (trumpet/vocals) helped define in the early '50s matured rapidly under the tutelage of producer Dick Bock. This can be traced to Baker's earliest sides on Bock's L.A.-based Pacific Jazz label. This album is the result of Baker's first sessions for the independent Riverside label. The Chet Baker Quartet featured on Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You includes Kenny Drew (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). (Performances by bassist George Morrow and drummer Dannie Richmond are featured on a few cuts.) This results in the successful combination of Baker's fluid and nonchalant West Coast delivery with the tight swinging accuracy of drummer Jones and pianist Drew. Nowhere is this balance better displayed than the opening and closing sides on the original album, "Do It the Hard Way" and "Old Devil Moon," respectively. One immediate distinction between these vocal sides and those recorded earlier in the decade for Pacific Jazz is the lissome quality of Baker's playing and, most notably, his increased capacity as a vocalist. The brilliant song selection certainly doesn't hurt either. This is an essential title in Chet Baker's 30-plus year canon. [Some reissues contain two bonus tracks, "I'm Old Fashioned" and "While My Lady Sleeps"]. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 31, 2010 | Fremeaux Heritage

Booklet Distinctions TSF - Le Choix de France Musique
Though his instrumental gifts are sometimes overshadowed by his unique, influential singing style, it should be remembered that Chet Baker was first and foremost a seminal cool-jazz trumpeter. This collection catches him at what is arguably the peak of his powers, in various live settings in Paris, L.A., and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Baker is accompanied on these dates by some of jazz's most awe-inspiring names, including Gerry Mulligan and Art Pepper. While Baker's interaction with these giants is a thing to behold, it's the expressiveness and clarity of tone he wrings from his trumpet that are the most remarkable aspects of this collection, as he deftly swings his way through “Moonlight in Vermont,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” and many others. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Concord Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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. While Baker and crew may have gained their inspiration from Manne, these readings are comparatively understated. That said, the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album. Although Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe had produced a number of well-received and luminous entries, half of the material on this disc is derived from My Fair Lady (1956). "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is given a languid torch song treatment that spirals around Baker's cool inconspicuous leads, featuring some equally sublime contributions from Zoot Simms (alto sax/tenor sax). This contrasts the resilient and free-spirited waltz on "I Could Have Danced All Night," which benefits from Herbie Mann's (flute) breezy counterpoint and solo. Bill Evans (piano) also lays down some tasty licks over top of the solid rhythm of Earl May (bass) and Clifford Jarvis (drums). "On the Street Where You Live" is a highlight, as the personnel take the time to stretch out and thoroughly examine with some key counterpoint between Baker's honey-toned horn and Pepper Adams' (baritone sax) husky and ample involvement. Of the non-My Fair Lady sides, "The Heather on the Hill" and a superior "Almost Like Being in Love" hail from Brigadoon (1947), while the scintillating and smoldering "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" comes from Gigi (1958). Not to be missed is "I Talk to the Trees," with an unhurried and evenly measured tempo that is coupled to Baker's austere, yet rich and purposeful lines. In 2004, Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe was remastered utilizing 20-bit analog-to-digital signal conversion for optimum audio. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 3, 1987 | CBS Associated

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
As Gerald Heard's liner notes point out, it's difficult to decide whether Chet Baker was a trumpet player who sang or a singer who played trumpet. When the 24-year-old California-based trumpeter started his vocal career in 1954, his singing was revolutionary; as delicate and clear as his trumpet playing, with a similarly bright and vibrato-free tone, Baker simply didn't sound like any previous jazz singer. His first vocal session, recorded in February 1954 and covering tracks seven through 14 of this disc, is so innocent-sounding it's like cub reporter Jimmy Olsen had started a new career as a jazz singer. The album's first six tracks, recorded in July 1956, are even more milk and cookies, thanks in no small part to syrupy material like Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before" and Donaldson/Kahn's drippy "My Buddy." Choices from the earlier session like "My Funny Valentine" -- arguably the definitive version of this oft-recorded song -- and "There Will Never Be Another You" work much, much better. The spacious musical setting, a simple trumpet and piano-bass-drums rhythm section, is perfect for Baker's low-key style. Despite the few faults of song selection, Chet Baker Sings is a classic of West Coast cool jazz. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
To much of the pop (as opposed to the jazz) audience, Chet Baker was known not as an able cool jazz trumpeter, but as a romantic balladeer. The two classifications were not mutually exclusive; Baker's vocal numbers would also feature his trumpet playing, as well as fine instrumental support from West Coast cool jazzers. For those who prefer the vocal side of the Baker canon, this is an excellent compilation of his best vintage material in that mode. The 20 tracks draw from sessions covering the era when he was generally conceded to be at his vocal peak (1953-1956), and are dominated by standards from the likes of Rodgers & Hart, Carmichael, Gershwin, and Kern. Baker's singing was white and naïve in the best senses, with a quavering, uncertain earnestness that embodied a certain (safe) strain of mid-'50s bohemianism. That's the Baker heard on this collection, which contains some his most famous interpretations, including "My Funny Valentine," "Time After Time," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "Let's Get Lost." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Fantasy Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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). The results are uniformly brilliant as Baker's cool-toned solos fly and bop with authority around the equally impressive supporting soloists. Conversely, the same cohesive unity continues on the introspective numbers that are more akin to Baker's California cool. Undoubtedly one of the charms of this collection is the distinct choice of material. Running the gamut from the relaxed and soothing "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and equally serene "Blue Thoughts" at one end of the spectrum to the percolating and driving intensity of "Hotel 49" on the other. This track features each quintet member taking extended solos corralling together at the head and again at the coda for some intense bop interaction. Especially ferocious is Philly Joe Jones, who could easily be mistaken for Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, or even Gene Krupa with his cacophonous solo that never strays from the beat or loses its sense of swing. Perhaps the best meshing of styles can be heard on the Miles Davis composition "Solar." This "best-of" candidate refers to both Chambers' and Jones' concurrent involvement with Davis. The churning backbeat likewise propels the melody and ultimately the performers into reaching beyond their individual expertise and into an area of mutual brilliance. Chet Baker in New York is a highly recommended entry into Baker's catalog. It should also be noted that these same sides were issued in 1967 as Polka Dots and Moonbeams on the Jazzland label. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
At his peak, Chet Baker's playing and singing were original, compelling, and unforgettable; his voice had an innocent, intriguing quality and surprising range, while his trumpet work was as striking and melodically stunning as anyone who's ever worked predominantly in the middle register. These 14 cuts were done in 1954 as Baker turned heads on both coasts. They're presented here in vivid sonic clarity and quality, a reminder of Chet Baker's genuine greatness. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 16, 1988 | ENJA RECORDS Matthias Winckelmann

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Despite a rough up-and-down life, Baker remained an excellent trumpeter to the end of his career. This concert, performed two weeks before his mysterious fall out of an Amsterdam hotel window (and his last known recording), is a near-perfect summation of his career. The emphasis is on his trumpet playing and Baker, whether backed by a symphony orchestra, a big band or playing in a small group with altoist Herb Geller, is in inspired form. This double-CD set is also available as two separate CDs and, in one form or another, is highly recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 5, 2010 | Masterworks Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 15, 2003 | RCA Bluebird

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Recorded in Italy in 1962, Chet Is Back! showcases the "cool" trumpeter cutting loose on such bop-oriented workouts as "Pent-Up House" and "Well, You Needn't." Backed skillfully by a young cadre of up-and-coming European musicians, including the stellar saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, Chet Baker may have never sounded better, including on the ballads. One listen to "Over the Rainbow" and it's clear this is an overlooked Baker classic. [Fans should check out the 2003 reissue of Chet Is Back!, which includes four orchestral pop bonus tracks Baker recorded with Ennio Morricone around the same time as this session.] © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This 1989 CD issue compiles all known sides cut during a July 26, 1956, session led by 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 session producer Dick Bock at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles. The recordings made during this week not only inform The Route, but three other long-players as well: Lets Get Lost (The Best of Chet Baker Sings), Chet Baker and Crew, and Chet Baker Quintet at the Forum Theatre. Likewise, these were the first sides cut by Baker since returning from his triumphant and extended stay in Europe. The Route compiles all 11 tracks by the sextet featuring Richie Kamuca (tenor sax), Pete Jolly (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and Stan Levey (drums) in support of Baker and Pepper. Bock had no immediate plans to use these recordings for any one album; that is to say he incorporated the tracks throughout various compilations released on Pacific Jazz. Three months later, however, Baker and Pepper did record with completely different personnel for the expressed purpose of issuing what would become known as Playboys and alternately Picture of Heath. Perhaps encouraged by the swinging interaction on Pepper's "Tynan Time" and "Minor Yours," both tracks were featured at this session as well as during the Picture of Heath collaboration. There are a few unexpected moments of sheer brilliance spread throughout, such as the Baker-penned title track, which contains supple and nicely contrasting solos from Kamuca and Vinnegar -- whose solid pendulum accuracy swings all through this collection. The Route is recommended for completists as well as curious consumers wishing to expand their knowledge of the light and airy rhythms that typify the cool West Coast jazz scene of the mid-'50s. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The numbers heard on Chet Baker & Crew were among a prolific flurry of recordings Baker was involved in during the last week of July 1956 -- fresh from an extended European stay. Sessions were held every day from the 23rd through the 31st, which resulted in such classic titles as The Route, Chet Baker Sings, and At the Forum Theater -- which is also available under the title Young Chet -- as well as Chet Baker & Crew. The crew on these sides includes Phil Urso (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano), Jimmy Bond (bass), Peter Littman (drums), and of course Baker (trumpet/vocals). Joining the combo on both the original as well as the alternate take of "To Mickey's Memory" and "Pawnee Junction" is Bill Loughbrough (chromatic tympani). His unmistakable percussive accents and tuned drum solos give these West Coast bop tracks uniquely Polynesian intonations. The bandmembers take full advantage of their individual roles and abilities as soloists to really stretch out on "Slightly Above Moderate" and the Urso-credited composition "Halema" -- named after Baker's wife. The chemistry of cool that flows between Urso and Baker is perhaps at its finest during the seamless exchange heard on "Worryin' the Life Out of Me." Timmons also boasts notable contributions throughout. His playful and scampering style dresses up the bluesy "Lucius Lu" and "Line for Lyons," among others. The latter is also notable as it contains the sole Baker vocal on this set. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 1, 2012 | Igloo Jazz Classics

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1955 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
With the growing popularity of Chet Baker's first vocal album, Chet Baker Sings, Pacific Jazz producer Richard Bock wanted to capitalize on both facets of his young star's abilities. Hence, the trumpeter turned vocalist entered the studio in 1955 with both his quartet featuring pianist Russ Freeman and an expanded sextet including bassist Red Mitchell, Bud Shank on flute, and various string players. The resulting album, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, helped set in stone the image of Baker as the jazz world's matinee idol and icon of '50s West Coast cool. His laid-back style -- a mix of '30s crooner and Miles Davis' nonet recordings -- appealed in its immediacy to a jazz public tiring of the hyper, athletic musicality of bebop. Similarly, his plaintive, warm trumpet sound was the more sensitive antidote to such brassy kings as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. Others artists had performed many of these standards before, but as with "My Funny Valentine" on Chet Baker Sings, tracks like "Let's Get Lost," "Long Ago and Far Away," and "Just Friends" became definitively associated with Baker for the rest of his career. Chet Baker Sings and Chet Baker Sings and Plays are not only the two most important albums of Baker's career, but are classics of jazz. [The 2004 EMI reissue of Chet Baker Sings and Plays includes an EP version of "Let's Get Lost" not included on the original album.] © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Universal Music AB

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Trumpeter Chet Baker, accompanied by pianist Michel Graillier and bassist Jean Louis Rassinfosse, covers a lot of emotional ground on this European date. This LP is highlighted by a passionate version of "Love for Sale," and a surprisingly melancholy "Bye, Bye Blackbird," and a relatively upbeat rendition of "Tempus Fugit." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
A ballad collection that emphasizes Chet Baker's troubled-romantic vocal style, it's not too surprising that these 1957 recordings remained in the vaults for almost 40 years. For one thing, Baker's delicate tenor, having won the hearts of thousands of teenage fans, was considered somewhat of a novelty to most critics. For another, his guitar-and-bass accompaniment is incredibly sparse, and while that doesn't hurt his trumpeting at all, being so prominent in the mix occasionally betrays his vocal limitations. Baker's fans, though, need not worry about such petty analysis, for the wistful, tormented tone of this record is the very sound that helped create the legend, and in places he is firmly in his element, especially on "There's a Lull in My Life" and a sublime instrumental version of "Little Girl Blue," which features some of his finest soloing. While it isn't the place to start, Embraceable You is a fascinating example of why Chet Baker's tragic spirit remains as attractive today as it was in his lifetime. © Jim Smith /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 15, 2007 | ENJA RECORDS Matthias Winckelmann

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The seven sides that make up the all-star outing Picture of Heath (1961) might be familiar to fans of co-leads Chet Baker (trumpet) or Art Pepper (alto saxophone), as Playboys (1956). Perhaps owing to trademark-related issues with the men's magazine of the same name, Picture of Heath became the moniker placed on the 1961 Pacific Jazz vinyl re-release, as well as the 1989 compact disc. Regardless of the designation on the label, the contents gather selections recorded on October 31, 1956 -- the third encounter between Baker and Pepper. Backing Baker and Pepper are the sizable quartet of Carl Perkins (piano) [note: not to be confused with the '50s and '60s rockabilly star], Larance Marable (drums), Curtis Counce (bass), and Phil Urso (tenor sax). Although Pepper supplied "Minor Yours" and "Tynan Time," the majority of the material can be traced to Heath Brothers trio member, Jimmy Heath (sax/flute), who was himself an acclaimed instrumentalist, composer, and arranger. The aggregate provide essential interpretations of his work, adding their own unique earmarks on to what is arguably the best and most playful interaction involving Baker and Pepper. Notable occurrences can be heard on "Picture of Heath" where Pepper sonically salutes Thelonious Monk, quoting recognizable passages from "Rhythm-A-Ning" on a number of occasions -- initially during a fierce exchange with Baker on the title track and then again prominently in the commencement of the aforementioned Pepper composition "Tynan Time." One of the more striking elements coalescing the partnership between the combo's soloists is the seemingly innate abilities that Baker and Pepper share as they propel themselves through the limber lines of "For Minors Only." The level of musicianship is evident as Counce, Perkins, and Marable effortlessly banter with youthful verve. Both the studied bop enthusiast and average jazz lover will find much to enjoy and revisit on Picture of Heath. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo