Tired but not ready to go to bed, I wandered into the back yard at midnight, camera in hand, to see if the full moon was visible. Slipping in and out of cloud banks that looked hand-tinted, the moon gave the southeastern sky the look of an impressionist painting.
As I gazed moonstruck, a number of songs came to mind, none more powerfully than “Moon Love,” adapted in 1939 by Mack David, Mack Davis and Andre Kostelanetz from the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Glenn Miller had a bouncy hit record of the piece that year. In 1966, Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle made it a part of the Moonlight Sinatra album, one of their finest collaborations. The version I couldn’t get out of my mind, however, was Chet Baker’s 1953 quartet recording, made as Baker was beginning his sudden rise to fame. It is a masterly example of his ability to take ownership of a ballad.
This Baker compilation has two takes of “Moon Love” from the original quartet session with Russ Freeman, Carson Smith and Larry Bunker.