Chet Baker: Bird Charming Singer For Rent

10th November 2016

Title: Sings

Label: Jazz Images

Continuing to release jazz albums that relax slowly into the imagery of hard working French photographer Jean Pierre Leloir, who created an archive of jazz musicians at work, this album, that was originally released in 1956 on Pacific Jazz, features the original album plus contemporary photographs.

I have to say, I much prefer the Leloir-based cover to the original release too. As you can see for yourself, the cover has Baker in full flow, giving his heart and soul to the lyric and feeling the performance. The original cover is rather insipid by comparison. More than that, if you flip the LP to the rear sleeve then you will see Baker blowing that magical trumpet which confirms the strange dichotomy of the man: was he a trumpet player who sang a bit or was he a unique singer that charmed the birds from the trees who blew the odd burst of trumpet to keep his hand in? After all, Baker began singing seriously when he was 24 and was, vocally, just as clear as his trumpet presentation. More than that, his style was pure. No vibrato for Baker. Elvis Presley once declared that, β€œI don’t sound like nobody.” Baker could have stood next to him, nodding his head and quietly added, β€œMe too.”

The innocence conveyed on the recordings made in 1953, 1954 and 1956 is stunning in terms of the clarity and the straightforward nature of the songs. There appears to be no effort made. The songs are just sung in a spacious and airy manner. As easy as you like.

The mastering is low in noise and volume, so compression is kept to a minimum while the presentation of the album has a slight sepia, valve-like glow to it that is warm and comforting in tone. Which blends with the vintage Baker singing style and the mellow glow of his trumpet playing.