ALL THE TIME one hears of the archetypical singers - Ol' Blue Eyes, Lady Day, Ella, Anita (O'Day), Tony, Joe Williams.... all well and good, yet Chet Baker hardly ever gets mentioned as a vocalist. Maybe it's because his vocal abilities have always been overshadowed by his usually very fine trumpet playing, or because his career had so many ups 'n' downs.... true, Baker was not a "great" singer, but he was a distinctive vocal stylist. Baker's seemingly (or not) blasé vocal style could convey more ennui, more of shattered dreams, and dry-ice cool pensiveness than dozens of so-called "better" singers too-dependent on displays of facile technique (and to h*ll with the lyrics).
Which brings us, Dear Reader, to Planet Chill by Chicagoan L. Zaide. He is a Son of Chet, but is no mimic or imitator. Zaide has absorbed the vocal approach of Chet Baker and channels it through his own vocal chops. He takes evergreens such as "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Night & Day," and "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and renders them with a light, cool, slightly breezy/detached air, deflating their melodrama and their clichés, giving them a knowing "nudge" while caressing them in an affectionately casual manner. His accompanists match him every step of the way, giving the tunes a shot of B-12 or unfussy fills 'n' trills as needed, along with brightness 'n' swing. Tony Branco's piano is nice, too, underplaying in that Hank Jones/George Cables fashion. If you need a soundtrack to accompany that old ennui and/or the slow melting ice cubes of that third Scotch on the rocks, neat, or if you think "nobody's doing what Chet did," seek ye this.