Ornette Coleman's insights are well worth paying attention to, and he certainly hit the nail on the head when discussing Chet Baker's singing. To paraphrase Coleman, Baker may not have had much of a voice, but that didn't stop him from grabbing you with it emotionally. As a singer, Baker didn't have had the range of Mel Torme or Billy Eckstine but he had a soulfulness, a vulnerability that could send chills up your spine. And there's no shortage of soul on Chet Baker Sings
, a reissue boasting five-star Pacific Jazz sides from 1954 and 1956. This is young Baker with all of his boyish charm, and "cool jazz" doesn't get any more moving than the versions of "My Funny Valentine," "Time After Time" and "But Not For Me" found on this CD. A gem that dates back to World War I and laments the death of an army friend in combat, "My Buddy" may have been written before Baker was even born yet in the trumpeter/singer's hands, it sounds like such a very personal reflection on the value of friendship.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene , the largest jazz publication in Southern California.