It is tempting to consider Chet Baker hommages
like Jeff Baker
's excellent Baker Sings Chet
(OA2, 2004) or John Proulx
's sublime Baker's dozen: Remembering Chet Baker
(MAXJAZZ, 2009) superior to the real item. So fractured is our picture of Baker that our full appreciation of him is clouded by his extra-musical proclivities. But it is not exactly that. Baker's vibratoless trumpet and vocals, as well as, his limited technical abilities are acquired tastes, but once acquired are generally rewarding to the listener. It is not simply one thing, but the whole package that is Chet Baker. What better legacy to leave than a constant recapitulation of your famous book every-so-many years.
Today's vintage homage is pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias' I Thought About You: A Tribute to Chet Baker
. Elias' reputation rests on her superior pianism, and beginning in 1990 with Eliane Elias Sings Jobim
(Blue Note), her smooth, cool and perfectly nondescript vocals, which prove sonically and stylistically well suited for the Baker repertoire.
Like Proulx, Elias sings her Baker straight and uncomplicated, highlighting Baker's own emotionally frozen though thoroughly attractive delivery. The result captures Baker's dark and hiply sardonic singing personality. What Elias brings to the table is the breezy lilt of a Brazilian accent that increases the disc's sensuality to eleven on a scale of ten. "I Thought About You" and "Let's Get Lost" are like lovers' lips brushing one another.
Elias is supported by a grand cast that includes trumpeter Randy Brecker
, guitarists Oscar Castro-Neves
and Steve Cardenas
. They provide, with bassist Marc Johnson
and drummer Victor Lewis
that humid Caribbean infusion that colors every song. Is Chet Baker best experienced through other artists?
Personnel: Eliane Elias: vocals, piano; Marc Johnson: acoustic bass; Steve
Cardenas: electric guitar; Randy Brecker: trumpet, flugelhorn; Oscar
Castro-Neves: acoustic guitar: Victor Lewis: drums; Rafael Barata:
drums; Marivaldo Dos Santos: percussion.