Chet Baker had a long and complicated relationship with Italy. It was a country where he was both imprisoned and adored. His first visit there took place in 1955, during his first successful European tour. It was during this tour that the quartet's pianist, the talented Dick Twardzik, tragically died in Paris from a heroin overdose. Baker was devastated, and following Twardzik's death – for which he felt some level of responsibility – the trumpeter submerged himself in the drug world and in a self-destructive spiral which would last for the rest of his life. Baker would stay in Europe for a number of months after Twardzik's death, playing with different local musicians.
Baker made his way back to New York in mid-1956 and wouldn't return to Italy until the 1959 trip that yielded the recordings included here. In fact, as Ezio Leoni (the musician in charge of the sessions) explained that Chet's trip to Milan took place in order to make two albums (one with strings and orchestra, the other with a small combo of Italian players). Baker was already an addict when the contract was signed, and before he could travel he was imprisoned in the States. Therefore, the sessions had to be postponed and shortly after this music was recorded Baker would be imprisoned again, this time in Italy. Prior to his Italian imprisonment he made the two albums expected of him and recorded some interesting tracks for movie soundtracks with different bands conducted by Piero Umiliani, which are presented on this LP. All of that music is also contained here, including a vocal version of “Arrivederci” which has been taken from the original movie itself and, for that reason, has some odd overdubbed dialogues in Italian.
CHET BAKER, trumpet & vocals with the Piero Umiliani Orchestra
A1-A5: Nino Rosso (tp), Bill Gilmore (tb), Marcello Boschi (as),
Livio Cerveglieri (ts), Gino Marinacci (bar),
Piero Umiliani (p, cond, arr), Berto Pisano (b), Jimmy Pratt (d).
Soundtrack to the film Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti (aka Big Deal on
Madonna St. and Intrigo a Los Angeles). Rome, circa 1960.
B1-B3: Nino Culasso, Beppe Cuccaro, Nino Rosso, Baldo Panfili (tp),
Bill Gilmore (v-tb), Mario Midana, Ennio Gabbi, Enzo Forte (tb),
Baldo Maestri, Marcello Boschi (as), Ivan Vandor,
Marcello Cianfanelli (ts), Gino Marinacci (bar), Piero Umiliani (p),
Enzo Grillini (el-g), Beppe Carta (b), Roberto Zappulla (d),
plus strings (12 violins, 3 violas, 2 cellos). Soundtrack to the film Smog. Rome, Italy, 1962.
B4-B6: Marcello Boschi (as), Livio Cerveglieri (ts), Gino Marinacci (bar),
Franco Chiari (vib), Piero Umiliani (p, comp, arr), Enzo Grillini (g), Berto Pisano (b),
Ralf Ferraro (d). Strings added on 16. Soundtrack to the film Urlatori alla Sbarra.
Rome, Italy, 1960-1962.
*BONUS TRACK (A6):
Same personnel, location, date and film as B4-B6.
Taken from the actual film soundtrack.