Chet Baker

Sings and Plays with Bud Shank, Russ Freeman and Strings

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With the growing popularity of Chet Baker's first vocal album, Chet Baker Sings, Pacific Jazz producer Richard Bock wanted to capitalize on both facets of his young star's abilities. Hence, the trumpeter turned vocalist entered the studio in 1955 with both his quartet featuring pianist Russ Freeman and an expanded sextet including bassist Red Mitchell, Bud Shank on flute, and various string players. The resulting album, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, helped set in stone the image of Baker as the jazz world's matinee idol and icon of '50s West Coast cool. His laid-back style -- a mix of '30s crooner and Miles Davis' nonet recordings -- appealed in its immediacy to a jazz public tiring of the hyper, athletic musicality of bebop. Similarly, his plaintive, warm trumpet sound was the more sensitive antidote to such brassy kings as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. Others artists had performed many of these standards before, but as with "My Funny Valentine" on Chet Baker Sings, tracks like "Let's Get Lost," "Long Ago and Far Away," and "Just Friends" became definitively associated with Baker for the rest of his career. Chet Baker Sings and Chet Baker Sings and Plays are not only the two most important albums of Baker's career, but are classics of jazz. [The 2004 EMI reissue of Chet Baker Sings and Plays includes an EP version of "Let's Get Lost" not included on the original album.]

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