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Chet Baker - The Legendary Riverside Albums

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The Legendary Riverside Albums

Chet Baker

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In 1954, Chet Baker was named trumpeter of the year by the American jazz press. Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography, “I think he knew he didn’t deserve it over Dizzy and a lot of other trumpet players. [...] Both him and me knew that he had copied a lot of sh*t from me”. Whatever Miles may have said or written, Chet Baker’s name was certainly on everyone’s lips in the 1950’s. Even when he played alongside some of the best musicians in the business like Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and Russ Freeman, Baker still held his own. The angel-faced musician based in Los Angeles played a pivotal role in the development of cool/West Coast jazz and in 1958 he signed a four-album contract with Riverside Records, a New York label who was captivated by his music. The complete collection of The Legendary Riverside Albums, released in autumn 2019, is a compilation of essential tracks showcasing a musician far more versatile than he may at first appear, who glamorized California’s cool jazz but was also able to work alongside hard bop heavyweights from the East Coast. In addition to these four re-mastered albums in Hi-Res 24-Bit, he compiled a number of alternative takes from these sessions into a fifth album.
The first of these four albums (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen to You, released in October 1958, shows his originality as he has a modern take on standards such as How Long Has This Been Going On? and Old Devil Moon. Unlike his business partner Bill Grauer, producer Orrin Keepnews was initially reluctant to welcome Chet Baker to his label and therefore didn’t produce this first album. But as it happens, after hearing Chet’s singing accompanied by Kenny Drew on piano, George Morrow and Sam Jones on double bass and Philly Joe Jones and Dannie Richmond on drums, Keepnews ended up being seriously impressed. Compared with the great singers of the time Chet Baker was just as innovative with his vocals as he was when playing his instrument. He stayed true to himself and his own style – which is a real testament to his character.
One month later he was back in the studio working on Chet Baker in New York, which was released in 1959 featuring Johnny Griffin on saxophone, Al Haig on piano and Paul Chambers on double bass. This album really raised the bar as the musicians take on some exquisite solos in ballads such as Polka Dots and Moonbeams and much more up-tempo hits such as the lively Hotel 49. Perhaps the most impressive of the lot is the album Chet, recorded on December 30 th 1959 and 19 th January 1959, featuring pianist Bill Evans, guitarist Kenny Burrell, flutist Herbie Mann and saxophonist Pepper Adams. You can hear the languor of Chet’s playing more than ever as the music takes on an all-new impressionistic feel and Evans’ wonderful phrases on piano are completely in sync.
From the first few seconds of the opening track of this masterpiece, Alone Together, with its stunning cover (Chet with model Rosemary “Wally” Coover, photographed by Melvin Sokolsky), the sensual and minimalist style give the album a more modern style. Later in July of that same year (1959), he recorded Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner & Loewe to round off his brief episode with Riverside Records. It covers Broadway hits from musicals such as My Fair Lady, Gigi, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon by lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. Chet is once again joined by Bill Evans, Pepper Adams and Herbie Mann here, as well as saxophonist Zoot Sims. His repertoire is just as distinctive as ever as he makes an esthetic sleight of hand when covering these tracks by adding his melancholic phrasing. Great music. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

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The Legendary Riverside Albums

Chet Baker

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DISC 1

1
Do It The Hard Way 00:03:00

Richard Rodgers, Composer - Lorenz Hart, Author - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

2
I'm Old Fashioned 00:05:04

Johnny Mercer, ComposerLyricist - Jerome Kern, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

3
You're Driving Me Crazy 00:02:55

Walter Donaldson, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Dannie Richmond, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

4
It Could Happen To You 00:02:50

James Van Heusen, ComposerLyricist - Johnny Burke, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Dannie Richmond, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

5
My Heart Stood Still 00:03:28

Richard Rodgers, ComposerLyricist - Lorenz Hart, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano Duet, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Wilder, ComposerLyricist - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

6
The More I See You 00:03:04

Harry Warren, ComposerLyricist - Mack Gordon, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

7
Everything Happens To Me 00:05:03

Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Matt Dennis, ComposerLyricist - Tom Adair, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

8
Dancing On The Ceiling 00:03:07

Richard Rodgers, ComposerLyricist - Lorenz Hart, Author - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

9
How Long Has This Been Going On? 00:04:08

George Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Ira Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Dannie Richmond, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

10
Old Devil Moon 00:02:56

Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Burton Lane, ComposerLyricist - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Edgar Yipsel Harburg, ComposerLyricist - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

DISC 2

1
Fair Weather 00:06:57

Benny Golson, Composer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

2
Polka Dots And Moonbeams 00:07:57

Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - James Van Heusen, ComposerLyricist - Johnny Burke, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

3
Hotel 49 00:09:47

Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Owen Marshall, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

4
Solar 00:05:51

Miles Davis, ComposerLyricist - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

5
Blue Thoughts 00:07:33

Benny Golson, ComposerLyricist - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

6
When Lights Are Low 00:06:48

Spencer Williams, ComposerLyricist - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Benny Carter, ComposerLyricist - Johnny Griffin, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Al Haig, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

DISC 3

1
Alone Together 00:06:52

Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Howard Dietz, ComposerLyricist - Arthur Schwartz, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

2
How High The Moon 00:03:35

Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Nancy Hamilton, Author - William Lewis, Author - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

3
It Never Entered My Mind 00:04:40

Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Rodgers, ComposerLyricist - Lorenz Hart, ComposerLyricist - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Burrell, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

4
'Tis Autumn 00:05:17

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - HENRY NEMO, ComposerLyricist - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

5
If You Could See Me Now 00:05:16

Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Carl Sigman, Author - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Tadd Dameron, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

6
September Song 00:03:04

Kurt Weill, ComposerLyricist - Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maxwell Anderson, ComposerLyricist - Kenny Burrell, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

7
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 00:04:31

Connie Kay, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Cole Porter, ComposerLyricist - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

8
Time On My Hands 00:04:30

Vincent Youmans, Composer - Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Mack Gordon, Author - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Harold Adamson, Author - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

9
You And The Night And The Music 00:04:06

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Chambers, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Howard Dietz, Author - Arthur Schwartz, Composer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

DISC 4

1
I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face 00:04:15

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

2
I Could Have Danced All Night 00:03:42

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Bob Corwin, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

3
The Heather On The Hill 00:05:03

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Bob Corwin, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

4
On The Street Where You Live 00:08:35

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Bob Corwin, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

5
Almost Like Being In Love 00:04:53

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Bob Corwin, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

6
Thank Heaven For Little Girls 00:04:35

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

7
I Talk To The Trees 00:05:50

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

8
Show Me 00:06:29

Herbie Mann, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Zoot Sims, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Evans, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Frederick Loewe, ComposerLyricist - Alan Jay Lerner, ComposerLyricist - Earl May, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer - Clifford Jarvis, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

DISC 5

1
While My Lady Sleeps (Take 10) 00:04:21

Gus Kahn, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bronislaw Kaper, ComposerLyricist - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

2
You Make Me Feel So Young (Take 5) 00:03:39

JOSEF MYROW, ComposerLyricist - Mack Gordon, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

3
The More I See You (Take 8 / Alternate) 00:02:49

Harry Warren, ComposerLyricist - Mack Gordon, ComposerLyricist - Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings.

4
Everything Happens To Me (Take 2 / Alternate) 00:04:53

Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Matt Dennis, ComposerLyricist - Tom Adair, ComposerLyricist - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Morrow, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Bill Grauer, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

5
Soft Winds 00:06:28

Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Fletcher Henderson, ComposerLyricist - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

6
Early Morning Mood 00:09:02

Philly Joe Jones, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Chet Baker, Composer, Trumpet, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Jones, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kenny Drew, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Orrin Keepnews, Producer

℗ 2019 Craft Recordings., Distributed by Concord.

Album Description

In 1954, Chet Baker was named trumpeter of the year by the American jazz press. Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography, “I think he knew he didn’t deserve it over Dizzy and a lot of other trumpet players. [...] Both him and me knew that he had copied a lot of sh*t from me”. Whatever Miles may have said or written, Chet Baker’s name was certainly on everyone’s lips in the 1950’s. Even when he played alongside some of the best musicians in the business like Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and Russ Freeman, Baker still held his own. The angel-faced musician based in Los Angeles played a pivotal role in the development of cool/West Coast jazz and in 1958 he signed a four-album contract with Riverside Records, a New York label who was captivated by his music. The complete collection of The Legendary Riverside Albums, released in autumn 2019, is a compilation of essential tracks showcasing a musician far more versatile than he may at first appear, who glamorized California’s cool jazz but was also able to work alongside hard bop heavyweights from the East Coast. In addition to these four re-mastered albums in Hi-Res 24-Bit, he compiled a number of alternative takes from these sessions into a fifth album.
The first of these four albums (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen to You, released in October 1958, shows his originality as he has a modern take on standards such as How Long Has This Been Going On? and Old Devil Moon. Unlike his business partner Bill Grauer, producer Orrin Keepnews was initially reluctant to welcome Chet Baker to his label and therefore didn’t produce this first album. But as it happens, after hearing Chet’s singing accompanied by Kenny Drew on piano, George Morrow and Sam Jones on double bass and Philly Joe Jones and Dannie Richmond on drums, Keepnews ended up being seriously impressed. Compared with the great singers of the time Chet Baker was just as innovative with his vocals as he was when playing his instrument. He stayed true to himself and his own style – which is a real testament to his character.
One month later he was back in the studio working on Chet Baker in New York, which was released in 1959 featuring Johnny Griffin on saxophone, Al Haig on piano and Paul Chambers on double bass. This album really raised the bar as the musicians take on some exquisite solos in ballads such as Polka Dots and Moonbeams and much more up-tempo hits such as the lively Hotel 49. Perhaps the most impressive of the lot is the album Chet, recorded on December 30 th 1959 and 19 th January 1959, featuring pianist Bill Evans, guitarist Kenny Burrell, flutist Herbie Mann and saxophonist Pepper Adams. You can hear the languor of Chet’s playing more than ever as the music takes on an all-new impressionistic feel and Evans’ wonderful phrases on piano are completely in sync.
From the first few seconds of the opening track of this masterpiece, Alone Together, with its stunning cover (Chet with model Rosemary “Wally” Coover, photographed by Melvin Sokolsky), the sensual and minimalist style give the album a more modern style. Later in July of that same year (1959), he recorded Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner & Loewe to round off his brief episode with Riverside Records. It covers Broadway hits from musicals such as My Fair Lady, Gigi, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon by lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. Chet is once again joined by Bill Evans, Pepper Adams and Herbie Mann here, as well as saxophonist Zoot Sims. His repertoire is just as distinctive as ever as he makes an esthetic sleight of hand when covering these tracks by adding his melancholic phrasing. Great music. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

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