Chet Baker Sings by Chet Baker [1956 LP Reissue; Pacific Jazz Records]Posted: January 24, 2016
“Or will I pass her by
And never even know
That she was my ideal?”
You can view my Chet Baker listening stats here.
My 5 Favorite Tracks:
- “It’s Always You”
- “Like Someone in Love”
- “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”
- “My Buddy”
- “That Old Feeling”
Joe’s Rating: 5/5 (“Well, it’s perfect to me.”)
Have you ever wanted to tell someone you loved them, or at least, in the case of people like myself who are always hesitant when declaring feelings as strong as love, that you thought they were absolutely exquisite?
“Whenever it’s early twilight,
I watch till the stars break through.
Funny it’s not a star I see,
It’s always you.”
You see someone across the room, and your gaze catches theirs. The irises of their eyes shine like gemstones. It seems as if an ethereal aura emanates from their body. You hear them speak for the first time, and their voice emits substance, intelligence and beauty. You fall in love with all of their features and idiosyncrasies—their kind and warm smile, their delicate hands, the way they tilt their head to the side when they concentrate on the things happening around them—and you convince yourself that they are too good for this world and too good for you. How does one muster up the courage to speak to this person?
“I’ve never been in love before, now all at once it’s you, it’s you forevermore.”
That is where Chet Baker comes in. His mellifluous and androgynous vocals produce those seemingly simple words that we had intended to speak but could not articulate. When he finishes singing, he subsequently picks up his trumpet and begins to play, and the brassy instrument, in all of its wonder, begins to speak about love in a way that no language could ever express.
“I may dream a million dreams,
But how can they come true,
If there will never ever be another you?”
Chet Baker Sings, his debut vocal album, contains an abundant amount of love and passion imbued within it, one that covers the good times of love in addition to the bad: songs of unrequited love, songs of unwavering love, songs of undying love, songs of distant love, songs of newly discovered love, and more. Baker, in the album’s mere 44 minute duration, seems to concisely convey love in all of its complexity and manages to relate his experiences to all of our own, and approximately 60 years later, his love songs resonate with his audience as strongly as ever.
With the album featuring the Chet Baker marquee, the stylings of versatile jazz pianist Russ Freeman are often overlooked, but Freeman plays with light-hearted pep in some instances and with a somberly beautiful languor in others. Freeman’s talent is put on display on Chet Baker Sings, and the cool sounds of his piano wonderfully complement Baker as well as the other members of this septet: James Bond, Peter Littman, Lawrence Marable, Carson Smith, and Bob Neel.
Although love is a prominent theme of this album, it is not a sappy album packed with banal love diddlies. It is one of raw authenticity and beautiful simplicity that helped to launch the illustrious career of one of the most talented trumpeters to ever grace the American jazz scene, one who is regarded by critics and fans alike as being right up there with the likes of Miles Davis as one of the best jazz musicians EVER, one whose life was tragically ended by substance abuse and whose career was ultimately ended by a fight that left many of his teeth shattered and his embouchure irreparable. Baker attempted a comeback, but he was never as successful as he had once been in his heyday during the 50s and 60s.
I am sure that I am one of many people who wonder how much more the incredibly talented Baker would have accomplished in his career had he not been a victim of his circumstances and had his life not come to a premature end at the age of 58.
“Nights are long since you went away
I think about you all through the day
My buddy, my buddy
Nobody, quite so true.”