In 1958 Chet Baker started playing with musicians less associated with cool jazz, as if he wanted to widen his range – he had recorded with saxophonist Johnny Griffin in the September of that year. Here he is teamed up with pianist Bill Evans, a similarly introspective player but one who easily adapted to playing in a more hard-bop orientated setting, and other members of a band with whom he had just recorded, backing vocalist Johnny Pace. Chambers and Jones were also on the Griffin session, so Baker was familiar with their playing.
The tracks are straightahead versions of ballads and whilst Pepper Adams plays around the melody to a greater degree, Baker tends to stick to the tune in a more linear fashion. The influence of Adams does seem to bring out a more assertive approach from Baker and the balance of these two establishes the “wee small hours” atmosphere right from the start on Alone Together, with laidback trumpet complemented by the lush baritone of Adams.
A real blues feel is conjured up by all the soloists on You’d Be So Nice and this is continued on Baker’s composition Early Morning Mood, an extra track omitted from the original album surely only due to its length, rather than the quality of the music. Opportunities arise to hear Baker with fewer musicians on the two tracks with Burrell, It Never Entered My Mind and September Song.
Tracks 11 to 15 are from Baker’s Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe album, with a slightly different line-up, but retaining a more forceful line of attack thanks to the added contribution of Zoot Sims.
For those averse to Baker’s vocals, this is the album for you. There aren’t any.
Alone Together; How High The Moon; It Never Entered My Mind; ‘Tis Autumn; If You Could See Me Now; September Song; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; Time On My Hands; You And The Night And The Music; Early Morning Mood; Show Me; I Talk To The Trees; Thank Heaven For Little Girls; I Could Have Danced All Night; Almost Like Being In Love (77.06)
Baker (t) with Herbie Mann (f); Pepper Adams (bar); Kenny Burrell (g); Bill Evans (p); Paul Chambers (b); Connie Kay & Philly Joe Jones (d). New York, 30 December 1958 & 19 January 1959. On tracks 11-15 add Zoot Sims (as, ts); Earl May (b) and Clifford Jarvis (d) replace Chambers, Kay & Jones. New York, 22 July 1959. Bob Corwin (p) replaces Evans on track 15. New York, 21 July 1959.
State Of Art 81258