Chet Baker

The Essential: Chet Baker Plays

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The Essential: Chet Baker Plays is a track-for-track reissue of the 1992 compilation The Best of Chet Baker Plays. In either case, the title is somewhat misleading. Rather than simply featuring the "essential" or "best" Baker tracks from his entire catalog, it features the tracks the trumpeter recorded under his own name during the '50s -- often with superb pianist Russ Freeman. Therefore, such classic cuts as "My Funny Valentine" recorded with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet are not included here -- go to Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet With Chet Baker for that. While The Essential: Chet Baker Plays is a solid single-disc overview, including tracks culled from such classic albums as Jazz at Ann Arbor, Grey December, and Playboys, it does not include any of Baker's iconic vocal recordings, and given the stellar quality of these albums, fans would do well to seek out the reissues.

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