Jazz Detective

Chet Baker (trumpet & vocals); Jack Sheldon (trumpet & vocals); Jack Marshall (guitar); Dave Frishberg (piano); Joe Mondragon (bass); Nick Ceroli (drums)

Recorded 1972

This Lost Album by trumpet playing friends was recorded partly as a way of getting Baker back into the studio after a self-enforced absence. After suffering an assault in August 1966 that broke several of Baker’s teeth and prevented him from playing, the trumpeter had problems adjusting to the dentures that had been fitted. Unable to regain his embouchure and play as he felt he should, Baker was wary of performing and recording.

In an attempt to get him back working, his friend Jack Sheldon finally managed to get him to record a duet album together on the premise that by doing so Baker would “only have to play on half of the album”. What is most pleasing is that Chet having been coaxed into the studio plays, and sings, quite a lot more than half of the date and does so beautifully too.

Jack Sheldon is best known as a West Coast cool school trumpeter. In addition to his ambitions as a vocalist, Sheldon also had a parallel career as an actor and stand up comedian. If his work in the L.A. studios provided him with ample opportunity to hone his trumpet playing, unfortunately his vocal prowess is no match for Chet’s on this outing. He delivery seems to err on the side of comedy, and placing an emphasis on phrases that give the song a meaning that was not intended by the composer.

However, when playing trumpet, either shadowing Baker or taking a shorth pithy solo. Sheldon is far more convincing There are also a couple of fine trumpet duets, it is impossible to mistake the sound of either, that show that the genuine empathy and friendship of the two musicians.

If Chet completely owns the vocal on ‘But Not For Me’ despite Frishberg’s rather trite opening, Sheldon shows his mettle with his solo and his introduction to ‘When I Fall In Love’ is perfect in setting up Baker’s superb rendition of the lyrics ensuring this is the track to sample first.

While there is much to enjoy on this previously unissued session, for this listener at least it would have been preferrable for Sheldon to have left vocal duties to Baker and focussed on delivering up more of his full and brassy trumpet.