Chet Baker: Sings Vol.2

This is the second volume that never was, comprising related material from the same mid-50s period with similar personnel


This is a volume 2 that never really existed. It has tracks recorded with personnel similar to those on the Pacific Jazz LP Chet Baker Sings plus selections from an album Baker made in NYC with Kenny Drew, Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones in 1958. It’s rounded out with a piece from Chet’s 1956 Chet Baker And Crew LP and a track arranged for big band by Ennio Morricone for a 1962 Italian date.

Although the record company here claim none of these songs appeared on the original LP, two of them, Grey December and Just Friends, did appear on the recent reissue on 20th Century Masterworks 350201.

Anyway, the music here is of a consistently high standard, with the trumpeter in good voice on vocals and horn. Baker’s voice in the early days of the mid-50s was light, mellow and with a natural sounding jazz delivery. It matched his trumpet playing very closely and the two combine very well on every tune offered here.

Line For Lyons is a rarely heard vocal version of the Mulligan quartet instrumental which Baker played on. He is heard singing with conviction and playing brisk trumpet on this early stereo track from 1956. There is a smooth reading of You Don’t Know What Love is from 1955 with Russ Freeman giving Baker the sort of stimulating piano accompaniment he always did. Let Me Be Loved is a vocal and big band line from the soundtrack of the The James Dean Story.

Generally, all these standards are played with relaxed skill and sound as though every musician featured is thoroughly enjoying himself. Baker is at his best on every piece, his trumpet soft focus but always inventive and with a style and approach that was always his own and owed little or nothing to anybody else.

Baker was at his peak as both trumpeter and vocalist between 1953 and 1958 when most of this programme was recorded. What happened to him later was unfortunate and debilitating. This set will likely please all followers of bop, jazz vocals and the best of 1950s mainstream jazz.

Let’s Get Lost; Line For Lyons; Just Friends; I Remember You; Long Ago And Far Away; While My Lady Sleeps; Let Me Be Loved. Chetty’s Lullaby; Everything Happens To Me; You Don’t Know What Love Is; They All Laughed; Old Devil Moon; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Grey December (45.27)
Baker (v, t) with various combos and orchestra including Russ Freeman, Bobby Timmons, Kenny Drew (p); Sam Jones, Carson Smith, George Morrow (b); Bob Neel, Peter Littman, Philly Joe Jones (d); Phil Urso, Richie Kamuca (ts); Bud Shank (f). Rome, NYC & Los Angeles, 1953-1962.
Valentine 896701