Sunday, 3 July 2011

Chet Baker

Chesney Henry "Chet" Baker, Jr. (December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhorn player and singer. Baker established a large following, based in part on his talent, his "matinee idol beauty, emotionally remote performances, and well publicized drug habit." He died in 1988 after falling from a second-story window of a hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Baker was born and raised in a musical household in Yale, Oklahoma; his father was a professional guitar player. Baker began his musical career singing in a church choir. His father introduced him to brass instruments with a trombone, which was replaced with a trumpet when the trombone proved too large for him.

Baker received some musical education at Glendale Junior High School, but left school at age 16 in 1946 to join the United States Army. He was posted to Berlin where he joined the 298th Army band. Leaving the army in 1948, he studied theory and harmony at El Camino College in Los Angeles. He dropped out in his second year, however, re-enlisting in the army in 1950. Baker once again obtained a discharge from the army to pursue a career as a professional musician. Baker became a member of the Sixth Army Band at the Presidio in San Francisco, but was soon spending time in San Francisco jazz clubs such as Bop City and the Black Hawk.

Baker's earliest notable professional gigs were with saxophonist Vido Musso's band, and also with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, though he earned much more renown in 1951 when he was chosen by Charlie Parker to play with him for a series of West Coast engagements.

In 1952, Baker joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which was an instant phenomenon. Several things made the Mulligan/Baker group special, the most prominent being the interplay between Mulligan's baritone sax and Baker's trumpet. Rather than playing identical melody lines in unison like bebop giants Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, the two would complement each other's playing with contrapuntal touches, and it often seemed as if they had telepathy in anticipating what the other was going to play next. The Quartet's version of "My Funny Valentine", featuring a memorable Baker solo, was a major hit, and became a song with which Baker was intimately associated.

The Quartet found success quickly, but lasted less than a year because of Mulligan's arrest and imprisonment on drug charges. In 1953, Pacific Jazz released Chet Baker Sings, a record that increased his profile but alienated traditional jazz fans; he would continue to sing throughout his career. Baker formed quartets with Russ Freeman in 1953-54 with bassists Carson Smith, Joe Mondragon, and Jimmy Bond and drummers Shelly Manne, Larry Bunker, and Bob Neel. The quartet was successful in their three live sets in 1954. In that year, Baker won the Downbeat Jazz Poll. Because of his chiseled features, Hollywood studios approached Baker and he made his acting debut in the film Hell's Horizon, released in the fall of 1955. He declined an offer of a studio contract, preferring life on the road as a musician. Over the next few years, Baker fronted his own combos, including a 1955 quintet featuring Francy Boland, where Baker combined playing trumpet and singing. He became an icon of the West Coast "cool school" of jazz, helped by his good looks and singing talent. Baker's 1956 recording, released for the first time in its entirety in 1989 as The Route, with Art Pepper helped further the West Coast jazz sound and became a staple of cool jazz.

After developing a new embouchure due to his dentures, Baker returned to the straight-ahead jazz that began his career, relocating to New York City and began performing and recording again, notably with guitarist Jim Hall. Later in the seventies, Baker returned to Europe where he was assisted by his friend Diane Vavra who took care of his personal needs and otherwise helped him during his recording and performance dates.

From 1978 until his death, Baker resided and played almost exclusively in Europe, returning to the USA roughly once per year for a few performance dates.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - Chet Baker (1962)

01. Well, You Needn't 6:21
02. These Foolish Things 4:55
03. Star Eyes 6:58
04. Over the Rainbow 3:28
05. Pent-Up House 6:51
06. Blues in the Closet 7:45

Chet Baker — Trumpet
Bobby Jaspar — Flute, Sax (Tenor)
Rene Thomas — Guitar
Amadeo Tommasi — Piano
Benoit Quersin — Bass
Daniel Humair — Drums


Cools Out - Chet Baker  (1956) 

01. The Route - 5:06
02. Lucius Lou - 5:37
03. Pawnee Junction - 4:03
04. Extra Mild - 5:20
05. Halema - 4:38
06. Jumpin' Off a Clef - 4:57

Time: 35:41

Chet Baker (trumpet, vocals);
Bobby Timmons (piano);
Phil Urso (tenor sax);
Peter Littman (drums);
Bill Loughbrough (chromatic tympani);
Jimmy Bond (bass)

[On 'The Route' only:
Art Pepper - alto sax;
Richie Kamuca - tenor sax;
Pete Jolly - piano;
Leroy Vinnegar - bass;
Stan Levey - drums


Stella by Starlight - Chet Baker  (1964)


01. My Funny Valentine 5:34
02. Stella By Starlight 5:36
03. Short Bridge 4:48
04. Serpent’s Tooth 4:57
05. Theme For Freddy 6:15
06. When Will The Blues Leave 5:54
07. In Your Own Sweet Way 6:30

Alto Saxophone – Glauco Masetti
Bass – Franco Cerri
Drums – Gianni Cazzola
Flute – Unknown Artist
Guitar – Rene Thomas
Trumpet – Chet Baker


Estival Jazz Lugano - Chet Baker ( 1980)

01.Night Bird
02.Tempus Fugit

Chet Baker - trumpet
Nicola Stilo - flute
Carl Ratzer - electric guitar
Riccardo Del Fra - double bass
Tullio De Piscopo - drums

Chet Baker & Steve Houben 1980

01. This Is Always
02. Sweet Martine
03. Beatrice
04. Deep In A Dream
05. Once I Loved

Chet Baker (Trumpet)
Steve Houben (Sax (Alto)
Dennis Luxion (Piano)
Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Kermit Driscoll (Bass)
Bruno Castellucci (Drums)


Chet Baker - At Capolinea [Live]

01. Estate (Martino) - 11:50
02. Francamente (Stilo) - 5:13
03. Dream Drop (Grailler/Grailler) - 4:22
04. Lament (Johnson) - 9:34
05. Pioggia Sul Deserto (Stilo) - 5:24
06. Finestra Sul Mare (Del Fra) - 6:50

Chet Baker, trumpet
Nicola Stilo, flute
Diane Varvra, soprano saxophone
Michel Grailler, piano
Riccardo Del Fra, bass
Leo Mitchell, drums

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