There was a certain sense of nagging familiarity as I listened to the first track of this jazz vocal album. As soon as I heard the first notes of "Whatever Possessed Me," it all fell into place. This is an album of all Chet Baker-associated tunes. Ruth Young was Baker's main squeeze from 1973-1982 and an integral part of the infamous Bruce Weber documentary film Let's Get Lost, released in 1989. Young was also the daughter of Max Youngstein, Vice President of United Artists Company, and as such she was raised in the worlds of Beverly Hills and New York City and became an acquaintance of many high-profile film stars.
When she met the trumpet/vocal legend, Young became immersed in his world of music and drugs for almost a decade before breaking off the relationship. The music chosen for his debut recording is not a tribute recording, but, as she puts it, "my heartfelt dedication to Chet's memory of our own very private and public years together." The liner notes were written by James Gavin, the auther of the very revealing biography Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, published in 2002.
The dozen selections were recorded in Augsburg, Germany at the studio of Wolfgang Lackerschmid, the vibraphonist with whom Baker had recorded several fine albums in the late 1970s. Young also selected veteran ex-pat saxman Herb Geller, with whom Baker recorded some wonderful 1950s West Coast sessions, as well as pianist Walter Lang and bassist Rocky Knauer. Geller supplies several sinuous alto solos and helps to reconstruct the world of 1955 all over again. Her choice to go without a drummer was a carryover of Chet Baker's own preferences.
To no one's surprise, the presentation and delivery of the songs is a time capsule Chet Baker vocal session with Ruth Young eerily emulating Baker's phrasing and timing. Is this imitation or art? You're not going to get any negatives out of this fan! If you are partial to the Baker vocal mystique, then this recording should do the trick for you. Despite an occasional intonation problem, Ruth Young admirably recreates an era and even includes some previously unheard verses for "This Is Always" and "Let's Get Lost."
Track Listing: Whatever Possessed Me, This Is Always, Time After Time, The Wind, I Fall In Love Too Easily, You're My Thrill, Deep In A Dream, Let's Get Lost, My Ideal, The Thrill Is Gone, Look For The Silver Lining, But Not For Me.
Personnel: Ruth Young, vocals; Herb Geller, alto sax; Walter Lang,piano; Wolfgang Lackerschmid, vibes; Rocky Knauer, bass.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.