Chet Baker: Big Band


This reissue finds Chet Baker in the somewhat unusual setting (for him) of a big band playing charts by Jimmy Heath, Phil Urso and Pierre Michelot. The band is not of grandiose Stan Kenton-like proportions where 18 pieces or more would be heard. It is a more intimate ensemble acting as an attractive cushion for Baker and his troupe of soloists.

Baker’s lyrical playing is well showcased on “Foggy Day”, “Worryin’ the Life Out of Me” and especially “Darn That Dream” which benefits from an attractive eight-bar sax soli by arranger Jimmy Heath. The sleeve-note does not give a solo breakdown so the following might be helpful in identifying the tenors. It’s probably Bill Perkins on “Foggy Day” and “Dream”. I think all the others are by Baker’s long-time colleague Phil Urso.

There is a mystery though concerning Fred Waters on alto – I have never heard of him. According to Tom Lord this was his only recording. He is not mentioned in Thorbjorn Sjogren’s reliable Baker discography which states that Urso played alto as well as tenor and baritone on the date. One thing we can be certain of is that the emotionally charged alto on “Tenderly” is by the one and only Art Pepper.

Among the bonus tracks State Of Art has included one of Chet’s most attractive small group dates from the period featuring Bob Brookmeyer and Bud Shank. In the mid-50s Shank often doubled very successfully on baritone and his delicate statement on “I’m Glad There Is You” is worthy of Gerry Mulligan.

(1) A Foggy Day; (2) Mythe; (3) Worryin’ the Life Out of Me; (2) Chet; Not Too Slow; Phil’s Blues; (1) Darn That Dream; (2) Dinah; V-Line; (1) Tenderly; (4) Dot’s Groovy; Tommyhawk; The Half Dozen; Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day; Stella by Starlight; I’m Glad There Is You; (5) Mythe (alt); V-Line (alt); Not Too Slow (alt); (6) Chet (alt) (78.44)
Baker (t) with:
(1) Conte Candoli, Norman Faye (t); Frank Rosolino (tb); Art Pepper, Bud Shank (as); Phil Urso, Bill Perkins (ts); Bobby Timmons (p); Jimmy Bond (b); Lawrence Marable (d); Los Angeles, 26 October 1956.
(2) Bob Burges (tb); Fred Waters (as); Phil Urso, Bob Graf (ts); Bill Hood (bar); Bobby Timmons (p); Jimmy Bond (b); Peter Littman (d). Los Angeles, 18 October 1956.
(3) as (2) James McLean (d) replaces Littman.
(4) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb); Bud Shank (bar); Russ Freeman (p); Carson Smith (b); Shelly Manne (d). Los Angeles, 9, 15 September 1954.
(5) Benny Vasseur (tb); Teddy Ameline (as); Armand Migiani (ts); William Boucaya (bar); Francy Boland (p); Benoit Quersin (b); Pierre Lemarchand (d). Paris, 15 March 1956.
(6) Benny Vasseur (tb); Jean Aldegon (as); Armand Migiani (ts); William Boucaya (bar); Rene Urtreger (p); Jimmy Bond (b); Bert Dahlander (d). Paris, 25 October 1955.
State of Art 81255