Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony – Jazz Detective

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Chet & Jack, two buddies meet in L.A. ….

Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony/ The Lost Tapes – Jazz Detective/ Deep Digs Music Group/ Elemental Music # DDJD-015 – 180 gm audiophile vinyl – 1972 – ***1/2     (Record Day Store Release)

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

The jazz detective, Zev Feldman, is at it again. And of course, jazz fans reap the benefit. This time, using his detective skills (and of course, his connections), for Record Store Day on April 20th, on an all-analog 180 gm LP, (limited to 4000 pressings), we have the opportunity to hear trumpeters, Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon in a sextet setting, sharing vocals and their West Coast influences, on a set of largely standards, recorded in a Tustin, Calif. studio.

Their meeting was recorded but never released. Film producer, Frank Marshall, the son of Jack Marshall, (the guitarist in the group) had the tape, and it set in the family garage for 50 years undiscovered until 2022. Jack had passed away suddenly in 1973, and the tape laid dormant till now. 

With the assistance of remastering engineer, Matthew Luthans, of the Mastering Lab, in Salina, KS, who used an all tube electronics machine feeding into a tube amplified Neumann lathe, the 100% all-analog LP sounds quite up to today’s standards.

At that time, Jack Sheldon, was flying high as the sidekick and band leader for the Merv Griffin show, while Chet Baker was attempting a comeback after drug (heroin) issues. His teeth had been knocked out after a drug deal gone bad. He had to regain his embouchure, and was one year shy of a full comeback in 1973. Baker and Sheldon had been friends and party mates for years, and Sheldon was ready to assist his mate.

Using strong LA based session men, including the great pianist, Dave Frishberg, bassist Joe Mondragon, and drummer, Nick Ceroli, the group was assisted by Jack Marshall, who also produced the session.

The contrast between Baker and Sheldon is readily apparent, and the session has a charm and ease that still sits well, a half century later. Jack was the hip raconteur, with a brash trumpet tone, while Chet was noted for his boyish understated feathery vocals, and West Coast “cool” trumpet timbre.

The eleven tracks they recorded, virtually all standards, have Chet on the right channel mix, while Jack is found on the left side. They sometimes share vocals and trumpet lines, but mostly each has their own tracks on vocals. 

Jack improvises, and uses his hipster style in using the familiar lyrics to give his new spin on the writer’s intent. Chet plays it straight, content to charm with his unique vocal talents. The same can be said for their trumpet styles- hip bop influenced from Sheldon, and mid register warmth from Baker.

On “Too Blue,” they share vocals with Jack having fun with his presentation, both backed by a rock solid bass lines from Mondragon. “Historia de un Amor,” features Jack’s Spanish vocals, while the Jobim tune, “Once I Loved,” is done in Bossa Nova style ,with Jack Marshall’s guitar and Chet’s trumpet featured. 

Dave Frishberg’s swing piano is given several opportunities to stand out on “When I Fall in Love,” and “But Not For Me.” The contrast between the two friends styles is most evident on “You Fascinate Me,” and “When I Fall in Love.” On the former, Sheldon does a hipster “rap” (of the day), while on the later, Chet sets a laconic, dreamy vibe.

Fans of Baker and Sheldon will enjoy their meeting, and Sheldon’s kindness in assisting with his buddy’s re-emergence is heart warming. After this session each mostly went their own way, with Baker spending much of the rest of his life in Europe, while Sheldon loved the LA scene, and mostly stayed put in southern California.

—Jeff Krow

Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony

Side A:
This Can’t Be Love
Just Friends
Too Blue
But Not For Me
Historia de un Amor
Once I Loved

Side B:
You Fascinate Me
When I Fall in Love
I Cried for You
I’m Old Fashioned
Evil Blue

More Information through Record Store Day

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Album Cover for Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony


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