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Author Topic:  discovering Chet Baker
Scott Thomas


Post Posted 23 Mar 2018 4:06 pm     Reply with quote

I knew a little about his trumpet playing and tragic elements of his life, but his singing has been the biggest revelation. In fact, it took several cuts in to discover that the great singer with no vibrato was in fact not a woman with a husky voice, but Chet himself! If he had been a vocalist only I think he still would have made his mark.

I also really love his standard repertoire.

Better late than never.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 23 Mar 2018 4:24 pm     Reply with quote

Largely because of Chet, I've developed a mild fixation for "But Not For Me". If you like the tune, check Polly Bergen's version.

Discovered a new word in the process: lackaday. Don't think I've ever heard it used other than in this song.

I just wish he had sung it with the introductory verse about Beatrice Fairfax and bananas.

Never saw the movie or read the book, but he apparently was a disaster to those in his orbit, even for a dope fiend.
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Mark Carlisle


From:
Springville CA
Post Posted 24 Mar 2018 9:56 am     Reply with quote

There is a movie loosely based on facts called "Born to be Blue" starring Ethan Hawke as Chet. It was enjoyable but lots of artistic license. Worth a watch.
My working gig is with a trumpet player. We do a lot of the Standards that were covered by Chet. Also in our rep is Dear Old Stockholm. Not a vocal but the version with Stan Getz is nice.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLgkoERdI90
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Russ Wever


From:
Kansas City
Post Posted 27 Mar 2018 7:34 pm     Reply with quote

Let's Get Lost 1988

~> CLICK
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robert kramer


From:
Nashville TN
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 7:26 am     Reply with quote

10-4 on the Chet Baker documentary "Let's Get Lost." Look for the interviews with Chet's friend - trumpet player Jack Sheldon.

More on Chet Baker is included in "Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon" (2008)

https://www.amazon.com/TRYING-GET-GOOD-Odyssey-Sheldon/dp/B001GBMRU8

Here also and online is "Anita O'Day Life of a Jazz Singer" (2014)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw9P9xt6kjE

These are all great documentaries that tell it like it is and are very inspiring for musicians.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 8:25 am     Reply with quote

The first time I heard him play was on"Shipbuilding" performed by Elvis Costello.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 1:44 pm     Reply with quote

Robert:

Thanks for the link to the Anita doc.

I knew it existed, but was unaware it was on Youtube. She was a pistol of the first order.

I'll try to catch the Sheldon thing too. He used to crack me up 40 years ago when he would run off at the mouth on the old Merv Griffin TV show. A character for sure.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 1:53 pm     Reply with quote

Jack Sheldon is one of my favorite trumpet players. The documentary on him is great. Check out his album Playing for Change. He is an incredible talent.
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Mark Carlisle


From:
Springville CA
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 2:16 pm     Reply with quote

One of the best ever Trumpet solos ever performed was Jack's on "The Shadow of Your Smile". IMHO of course.
I have the DVD of Trying to Get Good and about worn the poor thing out. Great Stuff!
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 4:12 pm     Reply with quote

Fan of Chet Baker here. He was a natural musical genius in his own way. Knew nothing about music, yet knew everything. I love his voice, too. Once you hear it you can never forget it.

Super prolific, too. He appeared on over 200 records. Ths is one of the best I’ve heard.

https://youtu.be/skSx-ECpzmw
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Bill Cunningham


From:
Atlanta, Ga. USA
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 8:08 pm     Reply with quote

Check out the pianoless quartet recordings of Chet and Gerry Mulligan with bass and drums. I have a CD and this thread reminded me to dig it out again.

I saw Jack Sheldon playing in a restaurant lounge in Glendale, CA 8-10 years ago. Still played well even though he appeared pretty feeble. He sat on a stool to play and had to be helped to the stage.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 30 Mar 2018 11:37 pm     Reply with quote

Mike Neer wrote:
Quote:
Ths is one of the best I’ve heard.

https://youtu.be/skSx-ECpzmw

Thanks Mike!
I was quite nervous this morning, but listening to this wonderful music calmed me down.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 31 Mar 2018 5:26 am     Reply with quote

These tunes with Paul Bley are beautiful. I agree, Joachim, great morning music.
I didn't know that Baker wasn't formally trained, but his relatively unaffected vocals is like his playing.
It reminds me of Joao Gilberto. Very fine.
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G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post Posted 31 Mar 2018 8:09 pm     Reply with quote

I have been a fan of Chet for many years. His playing and vocals are incredibly sensitive and soulful. I first became aware of him when I was studying jazz guitar. I always tried to "steal" licks from horn players rather than guitarists. (Joe Pass being an exception of course.)
Chet had a very troubled and hard road to travel.... passed way to young. The drugs took their toll.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 31 Mar 2018 10:12 pm     Reply with quote

I watched "Let's Get Lost" for the first time earlier today.

Immediate impressions:

Hangers-on, groupies, and leg-humpers are always embarrassing and never appealing. But I guess reflected glory and friction do count for something.

That bunch of gushing youngish sycophants surrounding him in some of the European scenes from the 1980s was especially demoralizing.

His singing voice remained consistent to the end.

Believe whatever he may have said at your own risk.

I liked the singing voice of one of his last flames--Ruth Young I think--who some blame for Chet's worst period of narcotics.

Jack Sheldon with his usual wry sense of humor---bitching about how he had to suffer and practice endlessly, while Chet never practiced at all. And with the comment about how "quick" Chet was with women.

Is there any dispute as to his last hours?

I have not read up on it, but I'm wondering what the odds are on accident versus suicide versus homicide. In situations like this, I'd expect there are many opinions, particularly among surviving family members.


Last edited by Mitch Drumm on 31 Mar 2018 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, Northern California
Post Posted 31 Mar 2018 10:26 pm     Reply with quote

It always amazed me how Chet Baker could improvise a melody as good as the original melody, over the same chords. He was a genius at that. And that voice! Whoa!

I've heard that he couldn't read music. Unusual for a jazz musician. He had a really sad life.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 31 Mar 2018 10:57 pm     Reply with quote

Hmmmmmmmm............


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKYtDgpdnPI

1 hour Dutch documentary "The Final Days".

Wherein Russ Freeman, piano player in Chet's quartet, says Chet, circa 1954, knew "nothing" about harmony.........."he didn't know one chord from another"............"there were times he didn't even know what key he was playing in".............."he'd say 'What note does it start on'".

"1 trompet merk Stradivarius Model"................."the only man who knows is Mister Baker himself".
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 1 Apr 2018 7:42 am     Reply with quote

I like this quote from Gerry Mulligan, ''Chet can read, but he doesn't have to.''
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 1 Apr 2018 8:40 am     Reply with quote

" Unusual for a jazz musician."

Although not as unusual as you'd think. Wes Montgomery couldn't read and neither could Erroll Garner.
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G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post Posted 1 Apr 2018 1:03 pm     Reply with quote

Neither does George Benson
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Mark Carlisle


From:
Springville CA
Post Posted 3 Apr 2018 2:05 pm     Reply with quote

Although there is some controversy about it, Pavarotti was a non-reader. And if you were ever blessed to hear him perform live, I think you will agree it didn't hinder him at all.
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Glenn Suchan


From:
Austin, Texas
Post Posted 5 Apr 2018 12:26 pm     Reply with quote

A childhood pal of mine, Mark is a trumpet player. When we both were kids Mark turned me on to Chet Baker. It wasn't until many years latter that I discovered that Chet was a vocalist, also.

In the mid 1950's Chet became addicted to heroin. Tragically, in 1966, while attempting to score some drugs he was savagely beaten, from which his lips were cut and several teeth were broken or knocked out. From that beating his embouchure was destroyed.

In the early 1950's Chet played in Gerry Mulligan's Quartet. Sadly, Gerry Mulligan also had a bad drug addiction and the band fell apart. After that Chet started his own band. In 1957 Mulligan and Baker got back together and recorded one my favorite albums:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrZGLZIW5V4

Keep on pickin'!
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Chris Brooks


From:
Providence, Rhode Island
Post Posted 11 Apr 2018 5:32 am     Reply with quote

I have also been listening a lot to Chet Baker--and Gerry Mulligan (off topic!)

Jack Sheldon, by the way, did some acting. I think you can see him in some Dragnet episodes.

As for vocalists, let's not forget the marvelous Johnny Hartman, with Coltrane in the background. Incredible ballads.

Chris
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