Personnel: Chet Baker (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); Doug Raney, Kenny Burrell, Philip Catherine, John Scofield (guitar); Bobby Jaspar (flute, tenor saxophone); Herb Geller, Paul Desmond (alto saxophone); George Coleman, Jack Montrose, Stan Getz , Zoot Sims (tenor saxophone); Gerry Mulligan, Bob Gordon (baritone saxophone); Bob James (piano, electric piano); Kenny Drew, Kirk Lightsey, Al Haig, Russ Freeman , Walter Norris, Bobby Scott (piano); David Friedman (vibraphone); Jimmy Bond, Joe Mondragon, Leroy Vinnegar, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter , Sam Jones, Carson Smith (double bass); Chico Hamilton, Jack DeJohnette, Larance Marable, Larry Bunker, Philly Joe Jones, Shelly Manne, Steve Gadd , Daniel Humair (drums); Ennio Morricone Orchestra, NDR Bigband.
Liner Note Author: Ernest Hardy.
While there are numerous collections of trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker's work, none have attempted to cover his entire career. Using Baker's classic 1952 recording of "My Funny Valentine" and the version recorded a month before his death off The Last Great Concert as melancholy bookends, Shout Factory has put together a solid anthology of the iconic artist's recordings. Separated into two discs featuring instrumental trumpet cuts and vocal cuts, respectively, Career: 1952-1988 features classic tracks such as Baker's legendary 1955 Pacific Jazz recording of "Let's Get Lost" as well as stellar lesser-heard tracks, including "Chetty's Lullaby," featuring Baker singing in Italian with Ennio Morricone's orchestra -- a must-hear for Baker fanatics. Also included is a thoughtful booklet including a reminiscence by trumpeter Randy Brecker, an essay by Ernest Hardy, and rare photos of the enigmatic musician. While much of the trumpeter's mid- and late-career work is spotty, there are gems and once again Shout Factory hits the mark, starting with Baker's version of "The Touch of Your Lips." Culled from the oft-overlooked 1964 album Baby Breeze, the track is a short but sweet take of the Ray Noble standard that should stand for most listeners as the definitive version. If there is one faux pas on this otherwise superb collection, it is the inclusion of a version of "There Will Never Be Another You" from a live date in Oklahoma in 1982. The scratchy, tin-can sound was probably captured on a hand-held tape recorder and will be off-putting to all but the most die-hard Baker completists. That said, Baker plays flawlessly on the cut, and in some sense it reveals a truth of Baker's long and muddled career -- that by the early '80s he was a forgotten cult figure who had to be sought out in sundry clubs around the globe. It may not make for pretty listening, but it's a significant chapter in his story, a story deftly brought into focus by Career: 1952-1988. ~ Matt Collar