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Embraceable You

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Album Review

A ballad collection that emphasizes Chet Baker's troubled-romantic vocal style, it's not too surprising that these 1957 recordings remained in the vaults for almost 40 years. For one thing, Baker's delicate tenor, having won the hearts of thousands of teenage fans, was considered somewhat of a novelty to most critics. For another, his guitar-and-bass accompaniment is incredibly sparse, and while that doesn't hurt his trumpeting at all, being so prominent in the mix occasionally betrays his vocal limitations. Baker's fans, though, need not worry about such petty analysis, for the wistful, tormented tone of this record is the very sound that helped create the legend, and in places he is firmly in his element, especially on "There's a Lull in My Life" and a sublime instrumental version of "Little Girl Blue," which features some of his finest soloing. While it isn't the place to start, Embraceable You is a fascinating example of why Chet Baker's tragic spirit remains as attractive today as it was in his lifetime.


Born: December 23, 1929 in Yale, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Chet Baker was a primary exponent of the West Coast school of cool jazz in the early and mid-'50s. As a trumpeter, he had a generally restrained, intimate playing style and he attracted attention beyond jazz for his photogenic looks and singing. But his career was marred by drug addiction. Baker's father, Chesney Henry Baker,Sr., was a guitarist who was forced to turn to other work during the Depression; his mother, Vera (Moser) Baker, worked in a perfumery. The family moved from Oklahoma to Glendale,...
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