Chet Baker

Prince of Cool

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Prince of Cool collects most of the sides the young trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker recorded for the fledgling Pacific Jazz label from 1952 to 1957. These are the recordings that defined Baker's career and largely created the aura of Baker the jazz idol. On these three discs -- separated into "Chet Sings," "Chet Plays," and "Chet & Friends" -- we find the youthful, good-looking, and technically proficient Baker before heroin addiction, dentures, and slapdash recordings forever linked the notion of tragedy to his legend. Included are such classic cuts as Baker's vocal version of "My Funny Valentine" off Chet Baker Sings, "Happy Little Sunbeam" from Chet Baker Quartet Featuring Russ Freeman, and Baker's storied original instrumental version of "My Funny Valentine" off Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker: Timeless. While there is little to quibble with here, all of these tracks are available elsewhere, leaving longtime fans with little incentive to pick up this anthology. However, for neophyte collectors looking to net most of Baker's early catalog, Prince of Cool is a sweet deal.

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