The early '50s saw Chet Baker honing his talents on the trumpet, plying his craft in hard bop and cool jazz. Singing was not yet his forté, but playing with strings, as he does here on select tracks, probably left many of his fans nonplussed. This double-CD collection with a whopping 45 tracks gives an example of the diverse Baker, not necessarily his best from start to finish. The value in this project is the inclusion of the long neglected pianist and composer Russ Freeman, who is represented by seven compositions and his wonderful playing. Equally important is the contribution of saxophonist/composer Jack Montrose, a criminally neglected jazz figure who shows up on five vital cuts, as well as the more popularized Zoot Sims, who is included as a bandmate. It's an inconsistent program for sure, but retains beaucoup merit in the aforementioned sections.