Far be it from me to delve into the long career of Chet Baker, the white trumpeter who innovated black jazz when, still in his early twenties, he took his mouth off the trumpet and started singing, revolutionizing the so-called cool. jazz and thus receiving the title of ‘Prince of Cool’.
The man who also became notorious for the drug addiction that accompanied him until his death in 1988, began to release his voice at his mother’s request while he was part of Gerry Mulligan’s quartet (or Jeru) – another brown sugar aficionado who led Baker into the bottomless pit of addiction – and in 1954 released the album that plays on our virtual record player now, Chet Baker sings.
The version linked below is from the reissue of the album, from 1956, which does not change its content except for the extra tracks. Here Chet, who had to put his foot down and fight skeptical producer Dick Bock to record the album, showed the world that for him singing was ‘just’ an extension of his trumpet switching; as his wife Ruth Young put it later, for him the words were mere notes. Maybe that’s why he didn’t care that pianist Russ Freeman chose most of the songs for the record: he could play any one of them.
His melodic, delicate and monotonous way of singing divided opinions, but despite what is thought about it, the later influence of songs like “I fall in love too easily”, “Time after time” and, of course, “ My funny valentine” in male and female jazz singers and beyond (just think, for example, of Stuart Murdoch).
But apart from these facts and assumptions, on this cold and rainy Sunday in August no company could be better than Chet Baker sings. So sing for us Chet ❤