Sam Records Reissues Deluxe AAA Edition of Early French Chet Baker LP

Sam Records is a one man, Paris, France-based operation began in 2011. The one man is Fred Thomas, who has self-professed interests in both jazz and photography. He also obviously is a man who cuts no corners and who believes in authenticity.

This Chet Baker album originally issued by the French Barclay label in 1956 features only one original member of his then quartet: bassist Jimmy Bond. The drummer, a Swede named Nils-Bertil "Bert" Dahlander took the place of the quartet's original drummer Peter Littman who'd returned to America. The group's original saxophonist Lars Gullin discovered pianist Dick Twardzik dead in his room weeks earlier, dead of a heroin overdose. On piano here was an unknown—Gérard Gustin who'd just been signed by label head Eddie Barclay.

Given the new line-up, the session, recorded at Studio Pathe-Magellan in Paris, Monday, October 24, 1955 was all about standards. Baker chose eight, five of which he'd not previously performed, and three he'd done with Gullin and Twardzik but ten days earlier. Imagine his mind-set.

"These Foolish Things" had been in the group's repertoire for some time. "There's a Small Hotel", "Autumn In New York", "Summertime", "You Go To My Head" and "Tenderly" were new. "I'll Remember April" and "Lover Man" were the two he'd performed with Twardzik and Gullin.

The mood is melancholic for obvious reasons but few do that mood better than Baker and this very well-recorded mono set well demonstrates that!

Despite the forlorn mood, given today's frenzied, chaotic world this record is more likely to produce reverie than outright sadness. If your blood pressure hasn't dropped when it's over you really weren't listening all that carefully. Baker was a ballad master and his straight forward takes here are elegant in their linear simplicity.

The record was mastered from the original analog tape and pressed at Pallas. Mr. Thomas' interest in photography brought him to the original photographer Jean-Pierre Leloir who was sort of like the Francis Wolff of Paris, although he captured the jazz scene without regard to record label.

In addition to superb cover art produced using the original negative, Mr. Thomas has accurately reproduced the cover using the original "fold-over" construction and lamination. Also included inside the jacket is another outstanding Baker photo by Leloir superbly reproduced in a fold-over sheet.

The record is costly (I bought my copy, no promos) but well worth the money for the music, the sound and the packaging. Though its musical significant in terms of jazz history is minor, the record does capture a young Chet Baker in his musical prime and the mood enhancing musical textures, startling image dimensionality and overall atmospheric pleasures make this record a treasure that demands repeated listens.

The vinyl is pressed at Pallas and according to the company, each record is carefully inspected before jacket insertion.

Mr. Thomas has self-funded six titles since 2011: two other LPs recorded by Chet Baker in Paris for the Barclay label, the last session recorded by Lester Young in Paris in 1959, a Ronnell Bright Trio from 1958 on Polydor label and a Barney Wilen recorded in 1957 for the Guilde du Jazz label.

Now he is seeking 'crowd-sourced' funding for future projects.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Nice, thanks - I'll see if I can help him out.

J.P. Leloir is also known for his great pix of Jimi Hendrix at the Isle Of Wight. Also, the Hendrix LPs and singles, many with different covers, came out on Barclay in France.

conjotter's picture

Thanks for the heads-up on this one.

Some people tend to focus on Chet as a singer, but I love his horn playing.

Can't wait to hear this version of Tenderly on vinyl.

jazz and cocktails's picture

I have of his albums, on CD, and really enjoy his playing. I discovered him in Paris in the mid-80s, in a small record shop in the Marais, which was still a little edgy then (before the Bastille Opera was built).

OT: why won't analog planet remember my user credentials, or perhaps this is just an artifact of the recent server works?

Michael Fremer's picture
I don't know. It says you've been here for a while but it shows two IP addresses...
jazz and cocktails's picture

this, and the Barney Wilen & Lester Young LPs from Acoustic Sounds.

David E's picture

I believe this is volume 2 of 2. I bought both of them on Barclay some months ago as I am a CB fan. I got them through amazon uk. I took a chance as I could find no quality info on Barclay. I was pleasantly surprised at the sound quality and loved the music.
BTW this is my first post but yours is always the place I turn to for for a balanced view.

beaur's picture

My Chet infatuation has me rating these even higher. I've had them for a bit and I love them all.

e.s.'s picture

I was lucky enough to stumble across three of these last year – the two Chet Baker Quartet albums, and the Lester Young LP – and they are wonderful. As Michael noted, they're not cheap records (I think I paid around $40 each for mine), but contributing at the $160 level gets you six LPs and one EP, which knocks the per record cost down to around $26 each including postage. Well worth it for re-issues as well-done as these.

Hardbop33's picture

I have been looking for these sessions on vinyl for over 10 years. Had all 3 volumes of the Chet Baker in Paris Barclay sessions on the evil shiny disc. Left them in the apartment of an ex-girlfriend and decided it would be better not to go back for them. Missed Chet but not the girl. Looking forward to being reunited!

PFM's picture

My record just arrived. It has a beautiful mono sound. With time, I'm loving more and more mono records. They have a wonderful depth and timbre. This one is very good. Package is a bit query. The record comes in a paper outer sleeve, with another paper inner sleeve, outside the cover. I suppose it is not to mark the original cover. However, I've tried to put the exterior paper sleeve inside the cover, it won't fit. Tried it in all the possible angles. Is it to discard? A bit odd. The inner paper sleeve fits perfectly on the cover.
Unfortunately, my copy has two big pops on 1st track. But the rest is quite good!