Jazz

Baker Plays The Best

31 JUL 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI

One of five titles refurbished in 2013 as new Original Jazz Classic Remasters to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Riverside label that first released them, Chet Baker Plays The Best of Lerner & Loewe presents precisely that: Eight tunes written by one of the most accomplished composing teams in American theater history, sung by one of the most instantly recognizable trumpet voices in jazz history.

Baker's trumpet often sounds like the embodiment of his persona -- a handsome, dapper and charming sound that makes this notorious ladies' man's take on "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" luridly delicious. His soft and somber reflection "I Talk To The Trees" sounds like a tune misplaced from a Bill Evans album, while "Show Me" brings down the curtain with inspired hot blowing.

The rest of this Best surveys songs from My Fair Lady. Baker renders "I Could Have Danced All Night" in waltz time as flowing and beautiful as Audrey Hepburn, and stretches out with the rhythm section "On The Street Where You Live."  The moonstruck melancholy and wonder of "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" also seems perfect for Baker -- you can count on one hand the other trumpet players who can register such emotional power.

One of Baker's final domestic recordings before his European exile, Lerner & Loewe surrounds Baker with not only these glorious compositions but with a stellar supporting cast that includes pianist Evans, saxophonists Zoot Sims and Pepper Adams, and Herbie Mann on wind and reed instruments.