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Chet Baker: Sings

Chet Baker SingsChet Baker Sings Back
Chet Baker: Sings
(1956 Jazz Track 1004LP)

The complementing talents of Chet Baker (1929-1988) both as a trumpet player and as a singer are now well known, and Will MacFarland's original 10-inch album, on which he compared Chet with Louis Armstrong, still seem quite appropriate. Both his trumpet and voice seem to be extensions of the same musical personality, and once you've become familiar with both facets of Baker, you expect to hear them both. However, this album was a revelation at the time and won Baker new fame and a new audience, which was less familiar with jazz that with pop music. The reasons are quite clear: Chet's voice is tender and beautiful, and at the same time his phrasing always swings and surprises. Initially issued as a 10-inch Long Play containing eight songs, the success of this album soon led to it being reissued adding the results of other later sessions. Below are the original liner notes for both editions of this music.

Side A:
That Old Feeling
It's Always You
Like Someone In Love
My Ideal
I've Never Been In Love Before
My Buddy

Side B:
But Not For Me
Time After Time
I Get Along Without You Very Well
My Funny Valentine
There Will Never Be Another You
The Thrill Is Gone
I Fall In Love Too Easily
Look For The Silver Lining

Original Liner Notes: 10" Album
by Will MacFarland

You'll hear Chet Baker's trumpet as well as his voice on some of these songs; that's hardly startling, but it is startling to discover a voice and a horn of such quality with but a single source. Chet Baker has turned out to be a musician with such a wonderfully nice voice, it is a problem whether to speak of him as a 'trumpet player who also sings' or as a 'singer who also plays trumpet'. Quite a list of instrumentalists 'also sing': Oscar Peterson and Jack Teagarden for instance. Singers that 'also play' are rarer; Billy Eckstine plays fine valve trombone when he's in the mood. Public demand has forced a change of emphasis in the case of Nat Cole who's a piano player who 'also sang', and now is a singer who 'also plays'. Usually one skill just naturally overshadows the other. Perhaps only Louis Armstrong has, like Chet, both a voice and a horn that is important in its own field. Of them it cannot be said that that 'also play' or 'also sing'.

To the legion of followers that Chet's trumpet has gained him, these initial offerings will serve as an invitation to join the ranks of that, until now, limited group that have heard Baker sing and been delighted by it. But the range of admirers or Chetty the singer will not be limited to jazz listeners, for his singing like his playing stands apart from the run of the mill. Chet has chosen songs that he likes to sing, and he handles them with the same found care he devotes to his instrumental vehicles. You'll hear a trumpet throughout these songs, and perhaps you'll hear an echo of that tender horn in the soft voice singing, moving delicately from word to word and note to note.

It is important to note that Chet's accompaniment is provided by Russ Freeman's piano, along with Carson Smith, bass; Bob Neel, drums. Freeman, already roundly praised ad composer-soloist, proves his versatility with piano assistance as deft and sympathetic as a singer could wish for.

Original Liner Notes: Long Play Edition
by Gerald Heard

This album includes on one side the entire 10" Long Play album that first introduced young Chet Baker as a singer. The reverse is devoted to a brace of new vocal trumpet performances arranged by Chet's accompanist pianist Russ Freeman.

Gerald Heard, Anglo-Irish lecturer, author and philosopher, a man of many and widely diversified interests contributes the following notes reflecting his interest in the talented Chet Baker:

Our so called popular music (jazz, swing, bop and back to "progressive") jazz is the real folk music of our times. It reflects and expresses the uncertainty and nostalgic longing with which most of us look at life today.

We're not at all sure, now, that "dreams come true" -at least those dreams we all grew up with- "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl" and "they lived happily ever after". And yet we must keep on hoping that our particular dream will come true. We all want to be "happy" but we don't know just how to go about reaching this elusive state.

As a result, most of our composers and performers are made up of virtuosos, specialists and rebels. The virtuoso dazzles us with his technical fireworks and the complexity of his improvisations. And, not seldom, he becomes the specialist.

The specialist quickly finds a set of cliches and settles down to turning them out as nauseam.

The rebel simply does what the word implies -he rebels. And he usually ends up talking to himself.

And each one of them have a corresponding audience. There are those who thrill to pyrotechnics. Some of us can only relax and find quiet in the anodyne of a comfortably familiar and accepted phrase. And a few of us like to feel daring -we like to stick our tongues out, vicariously.

But as operators these fellows are all pretty self conscious. And although we are lulled, momentarily, their music finally makes us listeners self conscious too.

That is, we soon begin to feel that what they had to say was only a distraction, not an authentic expression of an experience with which we might identify ourselves and find a release from the pressure or our own doubts and misgivings.

So there are some of us who are always looking for the one who combines all three or these types. He must have a technique (not necessarily formal or orthodox) but he must not "show off". He must have style but most not be repetitious. He must note conform but neither must he merely "thumb his nose".

Naturally, he doesn't conform, but he is not just an anarchist. Like the proverbial genius, "he does as he must". And because he speaks to our deepest and most basic need -the necessity of being able to think and feel as human beings who are individuals and yet part of one another- we are enthralled... and such an artist is the remarkable young man, Chet Baker.

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