Chet Baker

Chet Baker: The Pacific Jazz Years

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These four CDs are perfect for anyone seeking a primer of Chet Baker's (trumpet/vocals) sides for Pacific Jazz. The collection boasts over three-and-a-half-hours of primal West Coast cool from one of the subgenre's most luminous scene-makers. Although his tenure with the label lasted a mere five years (1952 -- 1957), the impact that the artist made continued its influence far beyond the realm of post-bop jazz, thanks in part to the variety of bands featuring Baker as either a member or leader. The legendary combo with Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax) was notable as being the only unit of its kind -- without a pianist -- yielding Baker's unofficial theme song, the classic "My Funny Valentine." Additional highlights by this aggregate are "Freeway" and "My Old Flame." Many listeners consider Baker's singing as an acquired taste. Parties fond of his supremely unpretentious and at times seemingly tortured delivery will find a healthy sampling of his vocals, including "But Not for Me," "You Don't Know What Love Is," "Let's Get Lost" and "Grey December." Chet Baker: The Pacific Jazz Years includes a few otherwise unavailable cuts. Primarily, selections from June '53 with the Stan Getz/Chet Baker quintet: "Come Out Wherever You Are," "What's New" and "Half Nelson" -- all of which were captured at the Haig in L.A. As if that weren't enough, a nearly 18-minute-long performance of "All the Things You Are" with Stan Getz, Russ Freeman, Carlson Smith and Shelly Manne (drums), at the infamous Tiffany Club in 1954 is an additional bonus. Visually augmenting the compendium is a 40-page booklet containing a thorough Pacific Jazz discography, with William Claxton's photos surrounding Ted Gioia's text.

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