Personnel: Chet Baker (vocals, trumpet); Chet Baker ; Pepper Adams (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Zoot Sims (tenor saxophone); Robert Corwin , Kenny Drew (piano); Earl May, Paul Chambers, Sam Jones, Carson Smith (double bass); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Herbie Mann (flute); Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone); Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone); Al Haig, Bill Evans (piano); Chico Hamilton, Clifford Jarvis, Connie Kay, Philly Joe Jones (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Kirk Felton.
Liner Note Author: Orrin Keepnews.
Recording information: Black Hawk, San Francisco, CA (09/??/1952-07/21/1959); New York, NY (09/??/1952-07/21/1959); Radio Recorders Studios, Hollywood, CA (09/??/1952-07/21/1959); Reeves Sound Studios, New York, NY (09/??/1952-07/21/1959).
Few could dispute Chet Baker's influence on West Coast jazz, let alone his overarching influence on post-bop. However, Baker's legacy is still hotly debated among musicians and scholars alike. THE BEST OF CHET BAKER may help to shed some light on the first decade of this enigmatic trumpeter and vocalist's career.
Distinguished producer Orrin Keepnews personally chose the repertoire for this collection, and, if anyone knows how to pick inspired and significant performances, it's Keepnews. "Do It the Hard Way" is a great example of Baker's vocal abilities. In addition to his subtle rendering of the lyric, he tears apart these chord changes with a stunning and melodically cogent scat solo. "Fair Weather" shines the spotlight on Baker's fiery trumpet playing; noted for his cool, sleepy tone, Baker proves here that he has just as much chutzpah and heat as any of his peers. This compilation also presents Baker collaborating with piano legend Bill Evans. A perfect match is heard on their tunes together (including "If You Could See Me Now," "How High the Moon," and "I Talk to the Trees"); the styles of Evans and Baker blend effortlessly, since both were naturally so contemplative in their approach to music.