Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon – In Perfect Harmony – The Lost Album

Jazz Detective – Street Date April 26th 2024
Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon - In Perfect Harmony - The Lost Album

As you now know, the Jazz Detective label is a true curator of jazz history, successfully bringing to light recordings that are sometimes lost or forgotten, like this one. “In Perfect Harmony” is co-produced by the legendary film producer Frank Marshall, whose illustrious resume includes franchises like Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and Jason Bourne, among other blockbusters. Marshall’s father was jazz guitarist and composer Jack Marshall, who played on the Baker-Sheldon recordings made at United Audio, the Tustin, CA studio he ran with his partner Hank Quinn, co-producer of the original 1972 session. Industry veteran and television/ film producer Jeff Pollack, whose recent credits include “The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash,” “Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time,” “Rhythm + Flow,” and “McCartney: 3,2,1,” serves as executive producer of the album.

A magnificent sound that feels like contemporary acoustic, with sublime mixing, evoking memories of my friend, the French trumpeter Michael Gasche, a passionate Chet Baker enthusiast whom I’ve seen interpret Baker’s works with such fervor. On this album, it’s just a fantastic duo between Chet and another trumpeter, Jack Sheldon, both playing their instruments and singing, with unparalleled complicity. With Sheldon having passed away in 2019, it’s worth remembering that Chet Baker, a heavy drug user and alcohol aficionado, could be in a disastrous state before stepping onto the stage, transforming as soon as he played. It’s this magic that occurs on every Chet Baker recording, where, besides the remarkable compositions throughout his career, he had a unique sound that made him immediately recognizable, even when playing alongside another excellent trumpeter like Jack Sheldon.

“One day during the summer of 1972,” recalls Frank Marshall, “Jack Sheldon had an idea: ‘Imagine, Chetie, if we made an album together, you’d only have to play on half of it!’ Chet Baker liked the idea but was still hesitant. To put him at ease, the two Jacks did what they did best – brought together excellent musicians.” In his notes on the music, historian Richard S. Ginell writes: “This newly discovered session comes from a time when Sheldon was at his peak on the Merv Griffin Show while Baker was struggling, out of music for a while trying to repair his embouchure. Jazz historians say Baker’s ‘comeback’ began in 1973, but this session precedes it by about a year. Sheldon and Jack Marshall organized it as a way to gradually bring their friend back onto the scene by sharing the date and recruiting first-class help from some of the best jazzmen in Los Angeles.”

“In Perfect Harmony – The Lost Album” is a truly classy album of incredible beauty. Despite being familiar with Chet’s work, there’s something else happening here—a detachment, a search for simplicity for greater effectiveness… Fortunately, after half a century on the shelf, the tapes were in good condition, and engineer Lutthans writes: “In December 2023, I had the pleasure of loading the tape onto the late Doug Sax’s fully customized electronic tape machine, feeding it into the tube-amplified Neumann lathe, pressing play, and cutting the masters 100% analog. Enjoy!”

We will certainly enjoy it. It’s truly hard to believe that these two excellent musicians have left us, just as it’s astonishing how high-quality the sound is on these recordings from 1972. We’re certain this album will appeal not only to Chet’s fans but to all jazz enthusiasts.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 29th 2024


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