Thursday, February 28, 2013



© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected, All Rights Reserved

The European release of Chet Baker’s first 10” LP, Pacific Jazz PJLP-3, on UK Vogue (L.D.E. 045), French Swing (M. 33.308) and Swedish Karusell (KLP - 1) replaced THE LAMP IS LOW with WINTER WONDERLAND.  The Swing LP label did not register the change and listed THE LAMP IS LOW  in error.  The UK LP listed the title correctly and credited the personnel as Chet Baker (tp), Russ Freeman (p), Bob Whitlock (b) and Bobby White (dm).  The Karusell LP and EP releases did not register the change and listed THE LAMP IS LOW  in error.  The Vogue and Swing LPs were available for sale in Europe in September and October of 1953.

Jepsen’s JAZZ RECORDS, page 178, credited an October 27, 1953 recording session as the source of WINTER WONDERLAND with Chet Baker (tp), Russ Freeman (p), Joe Mondragon (b) and Shelly Manne (dm).

Lerfeldt and Sjøgren supply essentially the same information in their CHET - The Discography of Chesney Henry Baker from 1985 adding an alternate take of The Thrill Is Gone with modifications regarding where it was released.

Thorbjørn Sjøgren revised the discography that he and Hans Henrik Lerfeldt had compiled in 1985.  The new edition was published in 1993.

The entry for the October 27, 1953 session listed an alternate take for WINTER WONDERLAND and questioned which version appeared on some European releases. Sjøgren corrected the previous listings in Jepsen and his joint effort with Lerfeldt that included WINTER WONDERLAND on PJLP-3. 

The availability of the UK Vogue and French Swing LPs with WINTER WONDERLAND in the fall of 1953 casts some doubt regarding the date listed in the Jepsen, Lerfeldt/Sjøgren and Sjøgren discographies.  It would seem that the albums with WINTER WONDERLAND were available the same month it was recorded if not before? 

Carson Smith and Larry Bunker had replaced Bob Whitlock and Bobby White as regular members of Chet’s quartet in April of 1953 when the balance of PJLP-3 was recorded.  Smith and Bunker would accompany Chet and Russ at their first live concert appearance at the Carlton Theater in August of 1953 and would be in the recording studio again on October 3, 1953 to record tunes for their second LP for Pacific Jazz.  

The October 27, 1953 date with Mondragon and Manne replacing Smith and Bunker is supported by the information that Dick Bock listed on the 78 single release with two numbers from that session.

Dick Bock did not list all of the personnel on I Fall In Love Too Easily on PJ-614 and The Thrill Is Gone on PJ-615, both purportedly from the same October 27, 1953 recording session.  Instead, the labels credit only Chet Baker, Vocal and Trumpet.  The matrix numbers do not provide any clues regarding the dating of the recording session as Bock was assigning numbers in chronological order as records were prepared for release, and had ceased to assign numbers to tunes as they were taped in a recording session. The matrix numbers for the 78 single release, PJ-614, were PJ 306 and PJ 307.  The same tunes on the 45 single, 45-614, were assigned matrix numbers PJ-308 and PJ-309.

Pacific Jazz licensed WINTER WONDERLAND and THIS TIME THE DREAM’S ON ME to UK Vogue where they were released as a 78 single, V2232.  The labels credited the original members of the Chet Baker Quartet; Chet Baker (tp), Bob Whitlock (b), Russ Freeman (p) and Bobby White (dm). UK release date unknown.

UK Vogue included WINTER WONDERLAND along with two other tunes credited to the original Chet Baker Quartet with Bob Whitlock and Bobby White on EPV 1007, an extended play release.  The fourth tune, IMAGINATION, was from the April 1953 session with Carson Smith and Larry Bunker. Date of release in the UK unknown.

French Vogue issued WINTER WONDERLAND coupled with three other Chet Baker Quartet selections on EPL 7039.  The personnel credit on the back liner of the jacket listed Mondragon and Manne on WINTER WONDERLAND but mixed up the bass credits where Bob Whitlock should have been credited on MAID IN MEXICO and Carson Smith credited on IMAGINATION

We are thus presented with conflicting information regarding the members of the Chet Baker Quartet recording of WINTER WONDERLAND.  Initial releases on UK Vogue placed this session with Bob Whitlock and Bobby White in the first recording session for Chet’s original quartet in December of 1952.  The appearance on UK Vogue and French Swing 10” LPs in September/October of 1953 would indicate that a recording date of October 27, 1953 was impossible.  

A future presentation exploring the formation of the Chet Baker Quartet in the fall of 1952 will present some theories regarding this quandary, stay tuned!

Saturday, February 16, 2013



© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected, All Rights Reserved

The first CHET BAKER session listed in Jepson’s JAZZ RECORDS on page 177 has vexed discographers since its appearance in print in 1965 crediting Red Mitchell on the first Chet Baker Quartet recording session:


Chet Baker (tp), Russ Freeman (p), Red Mitchell (b), Bobby White (dr)

LA July 24, 1953

PJ224 Isn’t It Romantic       Pacific Jazz EP4-4, LP-3, JWC 504, Vg(E) VA160119

Hans Henrik Lerfeldt and Thorbjorn Sjogren published a discography devoted exclusively to Chet Baker in 1985, CHET - The Discography of Chesney Henry Baker, Tiderne Skifter Publishers, Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Chet Baker (tp), Russ Freeman (p), Red Mitchell or Bob Whitlock (b), Bobby White (dr)
LA July 24, 1953
PJ224 Isn’t It Romantic       Pacific Jazz EP4-4, LP-3, JWC 504, Vg(E) VA160119, Swing M 33308, Kar KSEP 3009

The expanded entry in Lerfeldt and Sjogren on page 7 includes two additional entries for releases on French Swing and Swedish Karusell that presumably held some documentation supporting the appearance of Red Mitchell on bass.  Whereas Jepsen had listed Red Mitchell on bass on Isn’t It Romantic, Lerfeldt and Sjogren suggested that there was some doubt and modified their entry to include "or Bob Whitlock." Each of these releases will be examined below.

The liner note credit on EP4-4 clearly identifies Bob Whitlock as bassist on Isn’t It Romantic, The Lamp Is Low, This Time The Dream’s On Me and Maid In Mexico.

Once again the back liner notes of PJLP-3 clearly identify Bob Whitlock as bassist on Isn’t It Romantic, The Lamp Is Low, This Time The Dream’s On Me and Maid In Mexico.

JWC 504 was a compilation of Rodgers & Hart tunes entitled RODGERS & HART GEMS, however Pacific Jazz made an error and Isn’t It Romantic is not in this collection.  The second track on side two of JWC 504 is The Lamp Is Low, not Isn’t It Romantic as listed on the label and liner notes.

The notes on COOL BAKER, VOL. 1 (K18P 9259) correctly identify Bob Whitlock on bass on Isn’t It Romantic, The Lamp Is Low, This Time The Dream’s On Me and Maid In Mexico.

Vg(E) VA160119 was an English Vogue reissue of RODGERS & HART GEMS with the same cover and liner notes, and the same incorrectly identified version of The Lamp Is Low.

Saturday, February 9, 2013



© 2013, James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected, All Rights Reserved

Jazz discography is not a static entity, it is constantly changing as new evidence emerges that modifies, changes and corrects existing data regarding musicians, tunes, dates and places.  One of the first modern jazz discographies was compiled by Jorgen Grunnet Jepsen over forty years ago.  He was assisted by jazz experts worldwide who contributed their knowledge and expertise.  The acknowledgement page below lists some of those contributors.

Jepsen did not list sources for individual entries, that would have been an impossible task adding lines of text to an already eight volume set that ran thousands of pages. Thus we will never know the source of the dates for Chet Baker’s first recordings for Pacific Jazz listed in Jepsen’s JAZZ RECORDS.

The July dates listed on page 177 of the first volume of Jepsen’s JAZZ RECORDS do not stand up to scrutiny if one examines the release dates of the recordings listed.  Chet Baker’s first release on the Pacific Jazz label was a 78 single, PJ-605 (THE LAMP IS LOW & MAID IN MEXICO), that was reviewed in the May 6, 1953 issue of Down Beat magazine.  The two tunes on PJ-605 were included on Chet’s first 10” LP for Pacific jazz, PJLP-3, that was reviewed in the July 29, 1953 edition of Down Beat.  The two reviews clearly establish that the recording dates listed in Jepsen are not possible.  The dates would continue to be accepted within the jazz community and were repeated in the Mosaic Records release of the Chet Baker Quartet Studio Recordings in 1987.

The Mosaic discography grouped the first four tunes together listing Chet Baker, Russ Freeman, Bob Whitlock and Bobby White as the original quartet members as credited on the back liner notes of PJLP-3.

(© Down Beat, Maher Publications)

The matrix numbers offer some clues regarding when the recordings took place.  Dick Bock had acquired the ABCs of record production during his two year tenure with Albert Marx at Discovery Records.  Marx assigned a sequential number to every tune recorded with a dash one, dash two, suffix to distinguish individual takes of a tune.  The same series of numbers would be assigned to each side of a vinyl release as a matrix number.  Bock copied this practice, at least initially, as he began to produce records under his own label.  The first Pacific Jazz 78 single, PJ-601, with BERNIE’S TUNE (matrix 206-3) and LULLABY OF THE LEAVES (matrix 209-1) indicate that the third and first take were used respectively on this release.  If Bock began his numbering system with 201 these were the sixth and ninth tunes recorded by the new label. The Gerry Mulligan Quartet recorded a series of tunes at an October 15, 1952 recording session and Bock assigned matrix numbers 218 through 223 to the 78 singles released with those tunes.

(All PJ labels © EMI Capitol Music)

The Jepsen discography lists matrices 224 through 227 as being assigned to the first Chet Baker recording session that produced ISN’T IT ROMANTIC [224], THE LAMP IS LOW [225], THIS TIME THE DREAM’S ON ME [226] and MAID IN MEXICO [227].  The next group of matrix numbers assigned to 78 single releases are 235 through 238 for a Mulligan Quartet session with Lee Konitz recorded in January 1953.  If Bock assigned these matrix numbers sequentially this would indicate that the Chet Baker recording session occurred between October of 1952 and January of 1953.

(All PJ labels © EMI Capitol Music)

This puzzle was further unraveled when Gordon Jack interviewed Bob Whitlock in preparation for a series of interviews with jazz musicians that would be published as FIFTIES JAZZ TALK: An Oral Perspective, Studies in Jazz , No. 47, Scarecrow Press, © 2004.  In the interview Whitlock recalled that he and Gerry Mulligan had a falling out just before Christmas in 1952. 

“I stayed with Gerry until the night before Christmas Eve 1952. We had just returned from the group's second stint at the Blackhawk, and I remember going out to Chet's car during intermission at the Haig. A police cruiser came by our parked car in time to see sparks flying from a furtively lit joint tossed out of the window. One of the officers turned out to be from Chet's home state of Oklahoma, and he told him that if there was no more weed in the car, he would release us with a warning. Chalk that up for male bonding, I thought, but when they searched the car, they found two full lids in the door panel. We were summarily arrested and spent the Yuletide in jail, during which Chet took all the weight and had me cut loose. This incident led to a bitter confrontation with Gerry in the dressing room at the Haig, where he decreed that Chet and I were bad news for each other. By this time our personal relationship had deteriorated beyond redemption, but up to this point we had never threatened each other physically. I guess we were bluffing, because it all ended with a childish exchange of "You're fired!" and "I quit!" What can I say? Boys will be boys! My heroin habit was way out of control by this time, and some concerned relatives intervened. Three of my closest cousins were visiting for the holidays and came to the Haig to surprise me, but they were horrified at my condition and nearly kidnapped me. A few days later I was on my way back with them to my birthplace in Utah, and although it was cold turkey and tough for a while, I stayed there for nearly a year and got my health back.”

Clearly Bob Whitlock could not have been on any recording sessions with Chet Baker in 1953 as listed in Jepsen’s JAZZ RECORD. Chet’s first recording session that included Bob Whitlock had to have taken place sometime in late 1952.  Such were my conclusions for the liner notes to accompany the first volume in a series of three CDs of live recordings of the Chet Baker Quartet released in the spring of 2000.

The producer, Michael Cuscuna, emailed me several months later with the news that a contact with access to AFM Local 47 files had confirmed that Chet’s first recording session took place on December 15, 1952 at Gold Star Studios.  The same contact advised that there were no records on file for July 24 & 27, 1953 for Chet Baker, but there was a session listed for April 17, 1953 for Chet Baker and a single session on July 30, 1953. The April date would be the additional recording session with Carson Smith and Larry Bunker performing IMAGINATION, EASY TO LOVE, RUSS JOB and BATTER UP that filled out the first 10” LP, PJLP-3.  

The December 15, 1952 recording session at Gold Star Studios was never acknowledged by Dick Bock.  The closest he came to admitting that he had recorded Chet Baker as a leader while Chet was still part of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet was in a letter published in the May 1953 issue of Metronome magazine.

(© Metronome Magazine)

Photographer William Claxton was not on staff yet and no photographic evidence of the first Chet Baker session exists.  The Claxton photo of Chet on the cover of PJLP-3 was taken at The Haig.  The original photo shows Chet and Gerry together and was used on the cover of the Mosaic set release of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet & Tentette recordings.  The graphic designer of the PJLP-3 cover, John Brandt, superimposed a cutout of Chet among other graphic design elements.

(© EMI Capitol Music)

The European release of PJLP-3 on English Vogue (LDE.045) and French Swing (M 33.308) substituted WINTER WONDERLAND in place of THE LAMP IS LOW.  Both releases were available in the fall of 1953 and introduce another quandary regarding recording date and personnel. Extended play versions were also released, English Vogue (EPV 1007), French Vogue (EPL 7039) and Swedish Karusell (KSEP 3011) further complicating dates and personnel. These releases will be discussed in Part Two.

© 2013, James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected, All Rights Reserved