Whether in a crowded nightclub, or in a bustling studio, Chet can create an atmosphere of total emotional involvement for the listener. Chet has always approached music with love rather than commercially. He has to believe in what he is playing, or the sound is colorless, cold and insensitive.
Go back a few short years and review the accomplishments of this gifted musician. He has won almost every conceivable award, not only once, but two and three times. His version of "My Funny Valentine" is considered a standard by trumpeters of all schools. He has never tried to upstage any of his fellow musicians.
Instead, he addresses himself to the subtle, more meaningful comments within the framework of a tune, whether it's jazz, blues, a ballad or rock.
Chet's voice has the same bitter sweet quality as his playing. he tends to sing the true musical values rather than the merely dramatic, and from this comes an extension of his innermost feelings. The listener, while hearing him sing, has a tendency to become involved emotionally. When Chet reaches for a particularly high note, you find yourself pulling for him to make it.
The plan for this album was to use the individual style of Chet Baker together with today's many facets of music, each maintaining their own individuality. Chet and his sound and the sound of the current musicians. Hence the album title, "Blood, Chet and Tears".
This album has to be considered sheer treasure, like searching for gold and finding uranium.»
[Artt Frank, from the original back sleeve notes of "Blood, Chet and Tears"]
Despite what the liner notes say and according to "Chet Baker: The Missing Years - A Memoir by Artt Frank", Chet Baker hated recording this album, he only did it because in those dark years he was in desperate need of money for him and his family...
This record is often considered one of the lowest point in his career, or even his worst album if we exclude those recorded in 1965-66 - probably for the same reason explained in the above paragraph - with infamous The Mariachi Brass, a copycat version of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.
"Then why are you treatin' us with such crap?" I hear somebody ask... Well, basically because crap it ain't, my friends, and the vocal version of The Sandpipers' "Come Saturday Morning" included on the LP is a small masterpiece which is worth the admission ticket alone!
In my humble opinion "Blood, Chet and Tears" is a very enjoyable album if you take it for just what it really is: an Easy Listening record that tries to make the most out of the success Blood, Sweat & Tears were enjoying back in those days.
While compiliing this post I desperately tried to find some pictures of Chet Baker taken sometimes around 1970 - when "Blood, Chet and Tears" was recorded - but I couldn't find any... That is for sure a tangible clue of how he sort of disappeared from the scene in those years.
As the story goes, in the summer of 1966, Baker suffered a severe beating in San Francisco that was related to his drug addiction. The incident is usually misdated and frequently exaggerated in accounts of his life, often due to his own unreliable testimony. It is said, for example, that all his teeth were knocked out, which is not the case, though one tooth was broken and the general deterioration of his teeth led to his being fitted with dentures in the late '60s, forcing him to retrain his embouchure.
The beating was not the cause of the decline in his career during this period, but it is emblematic of that decline. By the end of the '60s, he was recording and performing only infrequently and he stopped playing completely in the early '70s...
Artt Frank and Chet Baker, circa mid / late '70s
Drummer Artt Frank is best known for his friendship and professional association with Baker, with whom he worked on and off for many years. In late 1969 he was trying his best to awaken Chet from his bad dream, and it was him who made "Blood, Chet and Tears" happen thanks to his friendship with some of the major executives at MGM Records.
MGM offered Baker a contract for a record to be released on Verve and centered around Blood, Sweat & Tears' recent output: Chet would be playing their music in his own Jazz style, and in that way, both the record company and the trumpeter, would be able to reach a far wider group of listeners.
The album was finally recorded sometimes during spring 1970 at Sunwest Recording Studios, under the musical direction of veteran producer Jerry Styner. A young graphic artist, Laura Thompson, took a portrait of Baker in the studio, which ended up on the album cover.
Published on July the 6th 1970, "Blood, Chet and Tears" didn't sell well and Baker sadly slipped away again into obscurity for a few more years...
Chet Baker in 1974
The tracklist and credits of "Blood, Chet and Tears" are as follows:
01. Easy Come, Easy Go (2:51)
02. Sugar, Sugar (2:52)
03. Something (3:19)
04. Spinning Wheel (3:15)
05. Vehicle (2:45)
06. The Letter (3:35)
07. And When I Die (2:59)
08. Come Saturday Morning (2:48)
09. Evil Ways (3:34)
10. You've Made Me So Very Happy (3:41)
Album produced and arranged by Jerry Styner.
Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studio, Hollywood, CA
Engineer: Donn Landee
Album design by Laura Thompson.
Musicians of note: Hal Blaine, Larry Knetchel, Joe Osborne, Ray Pohlman, Mike Deasy, Tommy Tedesco, Al Casey, Joe Pass, Tony Terran, Ray Triscari, Ollie Mitchell, Dick Hyde, Gary Coleman, Miles Anderson, George Roberts, Plas Johnson, Buddy Collette, Sid Sharp Strings
All tracks were remastered from vinyl in March 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files. Both formats offer complete printable PDF artwork.
Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
This is how Artt Frank remembers the day the recording of "Blood, Chet and Tears" took place:
On the day of the recording session, Chet was at my house before 7:30 am. He was excited, but pissed, and ready to get it over with. He was not the least bit happy about having to record that music, but excited about his being able to make the money he and his family needed. [...] During the drive, Chet was edgy and didn’t say a word until I pulled up in front of the recording studio.
«I really don't like having to do this album, man. I really don't. I know how hard you worked to make it all happen, and I appreciate everything you've done Artt, but I just don't feel good about having to play that fucking kind of shit, you know?»
He went on a verbal tirade about rock music, how it had nothing to say, that it was a sojourn into nothingness that had taken over the country, the record industry, and most of the good paying club gigs. He talked about how the rock musicians were making the heavy bread while great jazz musicians had to work for scale or less. The thing that pissed him off the most and found the most unfair, was that just about every one of the rock musicians smoked pot, popped pills and mainlined heroin, but society just seemed to turn their backs on it all. He couldn't understand it.
I agreed with him completely, but also reminded him that Mike Curb [MGM Records president] had gone out on a limb to make this recording date possible for him. I suggested he just go into the studio, record the thing, and be done with it. He didn't say a word for almost two minutes, then turned and smiled.
«You're right, man», he agreed.
We went inside to the front office and were immediately greeted by sound engineer, Donn Landee, and producer/musical director for the album, Jerry Styner. A huge ceiling to floor sound proof, plate glass window separated the office from the recording studio, and on the other side, a group of musicians were looking out toward us. As soon as they spotted Chet, they left and came running out. After the introductions, Chet wanted to get right to the business at hand and let Jerry know it, but in a nice way. Jerry got the musicians back into the studio and directed Chet to a high back leather chair off to the side of the musicians. [...]
Jerry got things under way and the first tune they did was "Easy Come, Easy Go". I couldn't stand it. I could only imagine what Chet was going through. They finished that one and did another called "Sugar, Sugar", and when that was finished, Chet did a Beatles' tune called "Something", which he sang. To my surprise, it sounded pretty damned good. After that, they did four more tunes, with Chet singing again on the song "Come Saturday Morning". Again, he sounded great. They played two more tunes, and the recording session was over.
Chet and I went into the engineer's room and listened to the playbacks together. A young graphic artist, Laura Thompson, had been drawing Chet while he played and handed him the finished piece, which Mike wound up using for the front and back covers of the album. Jerry Styner and Donn Landee were both completely satisfied with the outcome of the takes, so we split.
Chet was relieved that it was over with. He thought he had played well and was satisfied with his singing of "Something", a song written by George Harrison of the Beatles, and "Come Saturday Morning", made popular by The Sandpipers and written by Fred Karlin and Dory Previn. But Chet didn't ever want to have to play that kind of music again.
That night we went to a restaurant to celebrate. [...] On the way back home, I was driving south on La Cienega, and just as I crossed Beverly Boulevard, Chet suddenly became sick and wanted me to stop and pull over as fast as I could. I pulled out of traffic and over to the curb and as soon as I did, he opened the rear door, stuck his head outside and heaved up the delicious meal he'd just eaten. He'd tell me later on that he felt he had prostituted himself and he couldn't take it.
The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album, enjoy "Something", "Vehicle", "The Letter", "Come Saturday Morning" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy"!
More information about Chet Baker and "Blood, Chet and Tears" is available here:
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