Baker, Chet: Sings: It Could Happen To You LP
Few musicians have embodied the romantic – and ultimately tragic – jazz figure as totally as Chet Baker. Unschooled yet eloquent in his music, and a fast-liver who survived for nearly six decades, the Baker mystique has only reinforced one of the most haunting trumpet styles and ingenious approaches to jazz singing. The Los Angeles-based musician rose to fame in the early '50s, playing with established artists like Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and pianist Russ Freeman – partnerships which would solidify his status as a major jazz star. By the end of the decade, when he signed a four-album deal with the New York-based label Riverside, Baker had become known for his trademark West Coast "cool jazz" style. However, these recordings – which paired the artist with some of the best East Coast players – demonstrate Baker's versatility as a modern trumpeter who could play with even the hardest boppers. Baker's 1958 recording session debut for Riverside, which resulted in the album release (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen To You, offers a modern, hipper take on standards like "Old Devil Moon," "You're Driving Me Crazy," and "How Long Has This Been Going On?" Baker's only album for Riverside not produced by the label's co-founder, Orrin Keepnews (who initially objected to his partner Bill Grauer's unilateral signing of Baker), the essential Chet Baker Sings is unique in that the nimble artist sets aside his trumpet in several of the tracks, using only his vocals – and even scatting some of the improvised solos in a style that sounds very much like his lyrical trumpet playing.