Tom Lord lists 323 recordings by Chet Baker and this is yet another in the regular flow of reissued Chet. I know of at least five books devoted to his career and there is also an exhaustive discography by Thorbjorn Sjogren listing all his commercial and private recordings. Published in 1993 it is surely due for an update.
Then there was the 2015 film Born To Be Blue starring Ethan Hawke as the trumpeter. Over the years his fame has spread far beyond the narrow confines of jazz, undoubtedly fuelled by his life style and his mysterious death in a fall from a hotel window in Amsterdam.
20th Century Masterworks has concentrated on his ballad performances, an idiom at which he excelled. Numbers like Alone Together, ’Tis Autumn, If You Could See Me Now, Time On My Hands and September Song are perfect vehicles for his moody introspection.
Pepper Adams lends his powerful presence to Early Morning Blues (a themeless blues by the leader), You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Show Me and How High The Moon. Incidentally the latter was introduced in the 1940 Broadway review Two For The Show as a ballad which is exactly how it is performed here.
In fact the majority of these selections are performed at funereal tempos a little above 24 bpm. This can become a little too much of a good thing as attention does begin to wander. It’s definitely one for Chet Baker’s many completists but special mention must be made of Zoot Sims’ alto contribution to Show Me. His swinging, dancing tenor lines are replicated on the smaller horn on which he often performed in the late 50s.
(1) Alone Together; How High The Moon; It Never Entered My Mind; (2) ’Tis Autumn; (1) If You Could See Me Now; September Song; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; (2) Time On My Hands: You And The Night And The Music; (1) Early Morning Mood; (3) Thank Heaven For Little Girls; I Talk To The Trees; I Could Have Danced All Night; Show Me; (4) I Fall In Love Too Easily; My Funny Valentine (77.56)
Baker (t, v) with:
(1) Herbie Mann (f); Pepper Adams (bar); Bill Evans (p); Kenny Burrell (elg); Paul Chambers (b); Connie Kay (d). NYC, 30 December 1958.
(2) as (1) Philly Joe Jones (d) replaces Kay. NYC, 19 January 1959.
(3) Herbie Mann (f); Zoot Sims (as, ts); Pepper Adams (bar); Bill Evans (p); Earl May (b); Clifford Jarvis (d). NYC, 22 July 1959.
(4) Russ Freeman (p); Carson Smith (b); Bob Neel (d). Los Angeles, 15 February 1954.
20th Century Masterworks 170040