How timely, amid this global pandemic, with folks who have never so much as turned on an oven now cultivating sourdough starters and baking up a storm, that I have the pleasure of reviewing Calgary-based trumpet player and vocalist, Johnny Summers’ Baker’s Dozen: Celebrating Chet Baker. Most notable, and impressive, about Summers’ tribute to the jazz great is that rather than emulate Baker’s style, he takes us on a refreshing journey of some of Baker’s classics, putting his own distinctive spin on each track, of which there are 13 (as you likely surmised by the album title).
Take My Funny Valentine for example. While Baker’s approach is spare and ruminative, here Summers ingeniously employs the talents of both a string quartet and the 17-piece Calgary Jazz Orchestra, which he founded in 2004 and leads with his trumpet. The result is a lush and layered arrangement, featuring Summers’ warm, inviting vocals and beautiful horn work.
Other lovely, and lively, turns can be heard in the strictly instrumental versions of Time After Time and You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, where the bass, piano and drums really swing, and Summers’ solo work is stellar!
Summers’ vocal work on Embraceable You and You Go To My Head is also outstanding: luxurious, sensitive and sensual; some serious crooning there. So, while you’re waiting for that loaf of sourdough to rise, kick back with a julep or two and enjoy some time with this delectable Baker’s Dozen.