This 45-minute disc of primordial Chet Baker rarities shares its name with a companion volume of William Claxton's timeless photographs. The book visually preserves Baker and company during many of the same recording sessions heard on this release. The two presented here -- produced by Dick Bock in Los Angeles during the early to mid-'50s -- are the subject of some debate. The first date was originally recorded with the intent for Baker to add lead vocals, which he ultimately did. However, to get the most mileage out of the tapes, producer Bock re-released the same recordings three years later on the Pretty/Groovy album as instrumentals by substituting Baker's vocals with a lead tenor sax, performed by Bill Perkins. The recordings did retain Baker's irreplaceable trumpet licks in a somewhat feeble attempt to create the sense of interaction between the two. "But Not for Me," "Time After Time," and "Look for the Silver Lining" are among the titles given this unusual treatment, which is ultimately pulled off and works far better than one might imagine. The second session contains tracks from the July 1956 L.A. Forum Theater sessions that would yield the landmark Chet Baker and Crew album. Although a majority of the material from those three dates was issued in various formats, the seven tracks featured on Young Chet remained shelved for nearly half a century because no stereo masters could be located. They are presented here in monophonic no worse for wear. Highlights featuring Baker include "A Night on Bop Mountain" and "Taboo." However, as was Bock's methodology at the time, he would often cut additional sides using only the backing band. "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Autumn in New York" are among the tracks included on this Chet Baker title which do not feature Baker at all. Young Chet is a great recording, but recommended only for consumers actively searching every shred of music that is in any way connected to Chet Baker.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer