Craft Recordings will honour one of the great jazz artists of the 20th century, Chet Baker, with the 22 November release of the deluxe five-LP box set The Legendary Riverside Albums. The collection presents his output as a leader for the renowned jazz label Riverside, which he recorded and released between 1958 and 1959.
The titles in the collection are (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen To You, Chet Baker In New York, Chet and Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe. Fellow trailblazers such as Bill Evans, Johnny Griffin and Kenny Burrell feature on the recordings, which have been cut from their original analog master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. They’ve been pressed on 180 gram vinyl at RTI for this set.
Also part of the box is a bonus disc of choice outtakes and alternate versions from the sessions, as well as a collector’s photo print and a 16-page booklet featuring photos and new liner notes by jazz historian Doug Ramsey. The Legendary Riverside Albums will also be released digitally, including in the hi-resolution 192/24 and 96/24 formats. To preview the release, ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’ is now available to stream and download.
Los Angeles–based trumpeter and singer Baker (1929-88) lived fast and died young, but came to embody the romantic, enigmatic and innovative jazz figures. After emerging in the early 1950s, playing with such leading artists as Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan and pianist Russ Freeman, he signed a four-album deal with New York–based Riverside in the late 1950s, by which time he was known for his “cool jazz” West Coast style. The new collection, on which he teams with some of the best East Coast players, illustrate Baker’s versatility as a modern trumpeter who could play with even the hardest bop musicians.
The 1958 session that produced (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen To You sees him recasting standards like ‘Old Devil Moon,’ ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’ and ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?’ in a new, hip style. He sets aside his trumpet on several tracks that highlight his vocals, sometimes in scat form on the improvised solos. Ramsey’s new notes declare that the album contains “Baker’s most inventive and convincing vocal work.”
The recording of Chet Baker In New York took place just a month later, in an outstanding line-up featuring Philly Joe Jones on drums, tenor Johnny Griffin, bebop veteran Al Haig on piano and bassist Paul Chambers. The tracks, ranging from laid back to hard-driving bop, include the Miles Davis–penned ‘Solar,’ the ballad standard ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’ and the effervescent ‘Hotel 49.’
Chet was a 1959 instrumental offering that focused on ballads, recorded with pianist Bill Evans, guitarist Kenny Burrell, flutist Herbie Mann and Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone). Baker’s memorable vocals included ‘Alone Together,’ ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ and ‘September Song.’ The same year, Baker released his final Riverside album, Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe, interpreting the work of the famous Broadway songwriters. Again joined by Evans, Adams and Mann, with Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone, he covered material from My Fair Lady, Gigi, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon.
The fifth disc in the set offers outtakes and alternate takes from the Riverside years. Ramsey writes that highlights include “Chet’s playing into a Harmon mute on the new version of ‘The More I See You’ and the spaciousness of his open horn in the Matt Dennis–Tom Adair classic ‘Everything Happens To Me.’ There is also a rarity, ‘While My Lady Sleeps.’”
The Legendary Riverside Albums box set is released on 22 November. Scroll down for the full tracklisting, and pre-order it here.
Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You
Do It The Hard Way
I’m Old Fashioned
You’re Driving Me Crazy
It Could Happen To You
My Heart Stood Still
The More I See You
Everything Happens To Me
Dancing On The Ceiling
How Long Has This Been Going On?
Old Devil Moon
Chet Baker In New York
Polka Dots and Moonbeams
When Lights Are Low
How High The Moon
It Never Entered My Mind
If You Could See Me Now
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
Time On My Hands
You And The Night And The Music
Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe
I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face
I Could Have Danced All Night
The Heather On The Hill
On The Street Where You Live
Almost Like Being In Love
Thank Heaven For Little Girls
I Talk To The Trees
Bonus LP: Outtakes and Alternates
While My Lady Sleeps (Take 10)
You Make Me Feel So Young (Take 5)
The More I See You (Take 8, Alternate)
Everything Happens To Me (Take 2, Alternate)
Early Morning Mood