Truly presents the essential Chet Baker par All About Jazz

Hooray! Chet Baker, who died 20 years ago this month, lives again like a breath of fresh springtime air on these newly released CDs.
The Quintessence truly presents the essential Chet Baker; a two-disc selection of tracks from Baker's 1953-1956 recordings featuring an assortment of different players and group configurations. There is the quartet, quintet, sextet, ensemble (with strings), the orchestra and the big band (where it seems as if he raided the reed and horn section of the Stan Kenton band). There is also the “Moonlight In Vermont” track recorded with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and “Sonny Boy” with the Art Pepper Sextet. There is not enough space here to mention all of the personnel but notable is Zoot Sims' appearance on “A Little Duet” and the group on the last two tracks of the second disc: Russ Freeman (piano), Leroy Vinegar (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums), a tight cohesive unit. Freeman appears on many of the tracks and, since he worked a lot with Baker, has a special musical connection, including the same kind of sense of humor. These discs offer many Baker vocals including “My Funny Valentine,” the song with which he is most associated. Baker's talent lies in the simplicity and ease of his playing and singing. For those who were in the neighborhood over half a century ago when this music was being made, these CDs are a must for a wonderful wallow in nostalgia. For those who weren't, this is time travel at its best.