Chet Baker

The Very Best of Chet Baker

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The 2012 compilation The Very Best of Chet Baker collects tracks the legendary jazz trumpeter recorded for several labels in the '50s and '60s, including Riverside, Fantasy, and Prestige. These are stellar small-group sides in the easygoing West Coast "cool" style that Baker helped popularize. Included here are two of the cuts Baker recorded with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, including his classic 1952 version of "My Funny Valentine." Also featured are cuts from Baker's early work leading his own group on such albums as 1958's It Could Happen to You and Chet, 1959's In Milan, and 1965's Smokin' with the Chet Baker Quintet. As a single-disc summation of Baker's work during his most storied period, The Very Best of Chet Baker works quite well. It is nice that you get some of the mid-'60s tracks recorded in New York during Baker's first career "comeback" from his initial, and well-publicized, struggle with heroin addiction. In that sense, The Very Best of Chet Baker gives you a full picture of Baker's rise to stardom as a lyrical and poetic jazz heartthrob to his eventual transition into a hardened if still uncannily gifted and emotive journeyman artist.

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