May 23, 2024

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CD review: Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album – 1972 – 2024: Video, CD cover

In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album is a previously unreleased studio album from West Coast trumpet icons Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon. Recorded in Tustin, California, in 1972 with pianist David Frishberg, bassist Joe Mondragon, drummer Nick Ceroli and guitarist Jack Marshall. Produced by Jack Marshall and Hank Quinn, the tape comes from the personal archives of Jack Marshall’s son, the legendary film producer Frank Marshall.

This official release for Record Store Day is co-produced by Zev Feldman and Frank Marshall for Feldman’s Jazz Detective label (via Elemental Music). The all-analog recording is mastered by Matthew Lutthans at the Mastering Lab directly from the original master tape reel and manufactured at Memphis Record Pressing. The limited-edition 180-gram LP edition includes an extensive insert with rare photographs, newly commissioned liner notes, plus interviews and testimonials from musicians who were inspired by and knew and played with Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon.

Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon didn’t have much in common. The two trumpeters and occasional singers, who are heard together on the recently discovered, newly released “In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album” (Jazz Detective, out now), both emerged from the West Coast jazz scene of the early 1950s, but that’s where the similarity ends. Baker has come to be seen as the ultimate moody loner, the original jazzman without a country, wandering across the globe in an endless tour of one-nighters, generally staying one step ahead of drug-enforcement police. Sheldon became a mainstay in studio orchestras, playing on “The Merv Griffin Show,” singing on “Schoolhouse Rock!” and rarely leaving the West Coast. Baker’s singing was quiet, reserved and understated in a way that many found irresistibly erotic, whereas Sheldon was a figure of fun, full of irrepressible humor and wisecracks galore—he even made an album of standup comedy. Baker was unrepentantly self-destructive, leading to his death in 1988 under mysterious circumstances at age 58, while Sheldon had a long, productive life and died at age 88.

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Baker was back in California, but not by choice: In 1966, he had been beaten and robbed, and his teeth were decimated to the point that he needed dentures and to relearn how to play the trumpet. Other than on a series of forgettable, pop-oriented albums, by the summer of 1972 he had barely played or recorded in years.

It was Sheldon’s idea that the two should do an album playing and singing together, as a means of easing Baker back into full-time performing. Sheldon approached the guitarist and producer Jack Marshall, who had opened a recording studio in Tustin, Calif. As Frank Marshall, the producer’s son, writes in the album notes, the two Jacks then assembled an excellent rhythm section with bassist Joe Mondragon (who is playing electric on at least a few tracks here), drummer Nick Ceroli, and Dave Frishberg, the Minnesota-born jazz piano giant who had only recently relocated from New York.

Tracklist

SIDE A:

1. This Can’t Be Love
2. Just Friends
3. I’m Too Blue
4. But Not for Me
5. Mi Corazon
6. Once I Loved

SIDE B:

7. You Fascinate Me So
8. When I Fall in Love
9. I Cried for You
10. I’m Old Fashioned
11. Evil

Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon - In Perfect Harmony - The Lost Studio Album –  The Vinyl Whistle

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