Here's the icon of West Coast cool in the mid-'50s, in his early prime as a leader (heard here soon after leaving the Gerry Mulligan Quartet). His trumpet and voice are sublimely silky as you hear his famous rendition of "My Funny Valentine" plus "Time After Time; Isn't It Romantic?; Sweet Lorraine; Let's Get Lost; Moon Love"14 in all!
Chet Baker was at the height of his popularity, the epitome of cool jazz, when these tracks were recorded for Pacific Jazz between 1952 and 1954. While Baker could hold his own in bop settings, the emphasis in this collection is squarely on his lyrical approach to ballads, whether singing or playing trumpet, with just a rhythm section or an added string orchestra. His vocals were absolutely distinctive, sung in a high-pitched, even fragile voice seemingly drained of emotion and yet possessing an inherent charm, a detachment that might be both the antithesis of style and its definition, whether it's heard as sensitivity or indifference. The singing is a double of his trumpet playing here, spare and barely present but achieving much through nuance and suggestion. Pianist Russ Freeman
is an almost constant partner, supplying deft chords and harmonic daring, amplifying Baker's ideas. Their empathy is especially evident in the beautiful instrumental "Moon Love," but it's just as significant on signature Baker songs such as "My Funny Valentine," "Let's Get Lost," and "Like Someone in Love." --Stuart Broomer