Chet Baker- Sings. ( Blue Note-Tone Poet)

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1 review for Chet Baker- Sings. ( Blue Note-Tone Poet)

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Modern Music Dan

    A rare moment of sunshine in a troubled career

    Critics are still divided on the subject of Chet Baker singing. It’s the jazz equivalent of Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Those who prefer his trumpet-playing rail against the insipid, empty quality of his vocal delivery; fans of his other-worldly voice see (or rather, hear) it as an additional facet of one of the world’s great jazz musicians.

    When Chet stepped up to microphone in 1954, at the age of twenty-four, it was to begin an album that, from the opening ‘But Not For Me’ through to the closing ‘Look For The Silver Lining,’ capitalised on that ethereal, other-worldly quality that so divides listeners. Ambling in amiably with the opening track, it moves through a reflective rendition of ‘Time After Time’ and into the wistful melancholy of ‘It’s Always You.’ ‘My Funny Valentine’ opens with Chet’s air of resignation unfurling above a plucked double bass padding gently on; as if to acknowledge the delicacy of the song’s atmosphere, the trumpet sits this one out. The first side ends with the contented self-awareness of ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily.’

    A buoyant trumpet-tone introduces the second side and ‘There Will Never Be Another You,’ matched by a more confident singing tone – Chet is at quiet ease with his melancholy, and seems to have passed through it to a state of untroubled reflection. Tinkling glockenspiel underpins the opening of ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well,’ scattering its fragile fragment as the song moves ahead with a resigned intimacy that again calls for the trumpet to stay quiet. But it’s back with ‘The Thrill Is Gone,’ where for the first time voice and trumpet move slowly around each other like two tired dancers, and the album jaunts gently out of sight with the closing, cheerful ‘Look for the Silver Lining.’

    As a singer, Chet never does anything original with the melodies; he presents them in his gentle, uncluttered way, and lets the often fragile tone of his voice deliver the tune with a tender simplicity. Sum up the album in one word ? Amiable. It doesn’t try to be inventive or forge new ground, instead it sits comfortably in straight-ahead swing territory. Chet sounds in fine form; he was winning magazine polls for Best Trumpeter (beating Miles Davis) and Best Jazz Vocalist, and heading into a successful tour of Europe two years following the album’s release. There’s no intimation of the drug-fuelled decline that would begin three years later and plague him for the remainder of his career. Drop the needle on an album, and a moment in Chet’s turbulent life, drenched in sunshine, and decide – if you haven’t already – if Chet the Singer can bring a little sunshine into your life too.

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