For those accustomed to hearing Chet Baker's lonely, mellow trumpet ebbing and flowing within small group surroundings, BIG BAND may come as a bit of a shock. Yet, such a massive backdrop actually frames Baker's cool tones with powerful support and varied textures.
Recorded in the mid-'50s, Baker sounds strong, confident, and full of life. His solos on highly charged arrangements of such classics as "Tenderly," "Darn That Dream," and "Stella by Starlight" are superb. Baker's contemporaries fill out the ensembles with significant contributions, including the raucous "Tommyhawk," featuring a swinging baritone solo by Bud Shank, Pierre Michelot's intricate "Chet," and the sparkling "A Foggy Day." Though not his usual bag, BIG BAND is a unique gem in Baker's illustrious catalog.