Chet Baker – Best of Chet Baker Sings 1953-1956

Chet Baker – Best of Chet Baker Sings 1953-1956

Chesney Henry Chet Baker, Jr. (December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and singer. Though his music earned him a large following (particularly albums featuring his vocals, such as Chet Baker Sings), Baker's popularity was due in part to his matinee idol-beauty and well-publicized drug habit. He died in 1988 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.

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 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 once again obtained a discharge from the army to pursue a career as a professional musician.

– – –

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.

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Baker was a heroin user from the 1950s for the remainder of his life, and eventually saw his musical career decline as a result. At times, Baker pawned his instruments for money to maintain his drug habit. In the early 1960s, he served more than a year in prison in Italy on drug charges; he was later expelled from both West Germany and the UK for drug-related offenses. Baker was eventually deported from West Germany to the United States after running afoul of the law there a second time. He settled in Milpitas in northern California where he played in San Jose and San Francisco between short jail terms served for prescription fraud.

In 1966, Baker was savagely beaten (allegedly while attempting to buy drugs) after a gig in San Francisco, sustaining severe cuts on the lips and broken front teeth, which ruined his embouchure. He stated in the film Let's Get Lost that an acquaintance attempted to rob him one night but backed off, only to return the next night with a group of several men who chased him. He landed finally in a car where he was surrounded. Instead of rescuing him, the people inside the car pushed him back out onto the street where the chase by his attackers continued, and subsequently, he was beaten to the point that his teeth, never in good condition to begin with, were knocked out, leaving him without the ability to play his horn. He took odd jobs, among them pumping gas. Meanwhile he was fitted for dentures and worked on his embouchure. Three months later he got a gig in New York.

Between 1966 and 1974, Baker mostly played flugelhorn and recorded music that could mostly be classified as West Coast Jazz

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After developing a new embouchure resulting from 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. Baker's most prolific era as a recording artist was 1978-88. However, as his extensive output is strewn across numerous, mostly small European labels, none of these recordings ever reached a wider audience, even though many of them were well-received by critics, who maintain that the period was one of Baker's most mature and rewarding. Of particular importance are Baker's quartet featuring the pianist Phil Markowitz (1978-80) and his trio with guitarist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (1983-85). He also toured with saxophonist Stan Getz during this period.

In 1983, British singer Elvis Costello, a longtime fan of Baker, hired the trumpeter to play a solo on his song Shipbuilding, from the album Punch the Clock. The song was a top 40 hit in the UK, and exposed Baker's music to a new audience. Later, Baker often featured Costello's song Almost Blue (inspired by Baker's version of The Thrill Is Gone) in his live sets, and recorded the song on Let's Get Lost, a documentary film about his life.

The video material recorded by Japanese television during Baker's 1987 tour in Japan showed a man whose face looked much older than he was; but his trumpet playing was alert, lively and inspired. Fans and critics alike agree that the live album Chet Baker in Tokyo, recorded less than a year before his death and released posthumously, ranks among Baker's very best. Silent Nights, another critically acclaimed release, and Baker's only recording of Christmas music, was recorded with Christopher Mason in New Orleans in 1986 and released in 1987.

Chet Baker's compositions included Chetty's Lullaby, Freeway, Early Morning Mood, Two a Day, So Che Ti Perdero (I Know I Will Lose You), Il Mio Domani (My Tomorrow), Motivo Su Raggio Di Luna (Tune on a Moon Beam), The Route, Skidadidlin', New Morning Blues, Blue Gilles, Dessert, and Anticipated Blues.

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At about 3:00 am on May 13, 1988, Baker was found dead on Prins Hendrikkade, near Zeedijk, on the street below his second-story room (Room 210) of Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with serious wounds to his head. Heroin and cocaine were found in his hotel room, and an autopsy also found these drugs in his body. There was no evidence of a struggle, and the death was ruled an accident.

Baker's body was brought home for interment in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. A plaque outside the Hotel Prins Hendrik now memorializes him.

– – –

Jeroen de Valk has written a biography of Baker which is available in several languages: Chet Baker: His Life and Music is the English translation, Chet Baker: Herinneringen aan een lyrisch trompettist (remembrances of a lyrical trumpet player) is the Dutch edition (updated and expanded in 2007), and it is also published in Japan and Germany. James Gavin has also written a biography: Deep In A Dream – The Long Night of Chet Baker. Baker's lost memoirs are available in the book As Though I Had Wings, which includes an introduction by Carol Baker. A new biography, Funny Valentine, will be published in the summer of 2012. Written by Hong Kong-based author, Matthew Ruddick, it will be published by Melrose Books.

Baker was immortalized by the photographer William Claxton in his book Young Chet: The Young Chet Baker. An Academy Award-nominated 1988 documentary about Baker, Let's Get Lost, portrays him as a cultural icon of the 1950s, but juxtaposes this with his later image as a drug addict. The film, directed by fashion photographer Bruce Weber, was shot in black-and-white and includes a series of interviews with friends, family (including his three children by third wife Carol Baker), associates and women friends, interspersed with film from Baker's earlier life, and with interviews with Baker from his last years.

Time after Time: The Chet Baker Project, written by playwright James O'Reilly, toured Canada in 2001 to much acclaim. The musical play Chet Baker – Speedball, explores aspects of his life and music, and was premiered in London at the Oval House Theatre in February 2007, with further development of the script and performances leading to its revival at the 606 Club in the London Jazz Festival of November 2007.

Baker was reportedly the inspiration for the character Chad Bixby, played by Robert Wagner in the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals. Another film, to be titled Prince of Cool, about Baker's life, was cancelled as of January 2008. (wikipedia)

– – –

Chet Baker – The Best of Chet Baker Sings 1953-1956
(Capitol Records 1989)

1. The thrill is gone
2. But not for me
3. Time after time
4. I get along without you very well
5. There will never be another you
6. Look for the silver lining
7. My funny Valentine
8. I fall in love too easily
9. Daybreak
10. Just friends
11. I remember you
12. Lets get lost
13. Long ago and far away
14. You dont know what love is
15. That old feeling
16. Its always you
17. Ive never been in love before
18. My buddy
19. Like someone in love
20. My ideal

Chet Baker, vocals, trumpet
Russ Freeman, piano
Joe Mondragon, bass (1)
Carson Smith, bass (2-14)
Jimmy Bond, bass (15-20)
Shelly Manne, drums (1)
Bob Neel, drums (2-14)
Peter Littman, drums (15-17)
Lawrence Marable, drums (18-20)

Recorded on:
October 27, 1953 at Radio Recorders LA (1)
February 15, 1954 at Capitol Studios LA (2-8)
March 7, 1955 at Capitol Studios LA (9-14)
July 23, 1956 at the Forum Theatre LA (15-17)
July 30, 1956 at the Forum Theatre LA (18-20)

 

01 The Thrill Is Gone.flac
11.49 MB

 

02 But Not For Me.flac
13.13 MB

 

03 Time After Time.flac
11.23 MB

 

04 I Get Along Without You Very Well.flac
11.61 MB

 

05 There Will Never Be Another You.flac
12.17 MB

 

06 Look for the Silver Lining.flac
11.07 MB

 

07 My Funny Valentine.flac
8.7 MB

 

08 I Fall in Love Too Easily.flac
13.27 MB

 

09 Daybreak.flac
11.49 MB

 

10 Just Friends.flac
12.6 MB

 

11 I Remember You.flac
13.6 MB

 

12 Let's Get Lost.flac
16.81 MB

 

13 Long Ago (And Far Away).flac
16.72 MB

 

14 You Don't Know What Love Is.flac
17.5 MB

 

15 That Old Feeling.flac
13.42 MB

 

16 It's Always You.flac
14 MB

 

17 I've Never Been In Love Before.flac
17.53 MB

 

18 My Buddy.flac
13.65 MB

 

19 Like Someone in Love.flac
8.64 MB

 

20 My Ideal.flac
15.26 MB

 

Chet Baker -.jpg
184.12 KB

 

The Best of Chet Baker Sings 1953-1956.txt
1.94 KB


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