Chet Baker – Essential Standards

Chet Baker
Essential Standards
Original Jazz Classics/Concord
Matthew Robinson

Though Chet Baker has plenty of compilations,  there is always room for more! And though Concord Records could have thrown together another set of his most obvious hits, they chose instead to dip a bit deeper and more broadly for this latest posthumous revisiting. In addition to cuts from such popular albums as “Chet Baker Sings” and the sharply eponymous “Chet,” the label that recently brought the

(Orrin) Keepnews Collection includes some of that famed producer’s best works, along with tracks overseen by Rudy Van Gelder, Jack Higgins, and a number of live tracks from Baker’s sets with Gerry Mulligan and, as another album title says, “Fifty Italian Strings.” 

 

In addition to Mulligan, this album also offers classic contributions from the legendary likes of Kenny Drew, Philly Joe Jones, Herbie Mann, Al Haig, Pepper Adams, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans, as well as some solo songs in which the multi-talented Baker calls all the shots. Speaking of songs, this “essential” collection does include Baker favorites like Yip Harburg’s “Old Devil Moon” and Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” ( a signature baker piece if ever there were one!), but it also includes more esoteric “standards” such as Williams and Carter’s “When Lights Are Low” and Rodgers and Hart’s B- side hit “Have You Met Miss Jones?”

 

Along the way, Baker not only gets to show of his instantly-recognizable chops and cords, but also a bit of rare scatting and a bandleading sense that allowed him to work wonders with small ensembles and full orchestras, regardless of where they came from! So whether you are a completist who wants a convenient package to take on the road, a new fan who wants a bit more than a “Greatest Hits” or just a fan of an amazing talent or simply of amazing music, this latest collection of the fallen but still twinkling star is for you!