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Chet Baker, misjudged?

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I just got done listening to "Chet Is Back" and, like many times before...am reminded just how engaging he is. Over the years, his music is something I return to often. Junkie-dom and Milesian-white-hope shit aside...I can't help but think that Chet Baker is a bad mf and had a musical element that is missing in even the greatest of the great.

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Chet Baker junkie here!

Always have been. Perfectly aware of the ups and downs of the man. Caught him live a number of times. One never knew what to expect when onbe went to his club dates. Some experiences were a waste of time but when he was in the right setting and the right mood, the man brought bliss!

I return to his recordings pretty often and wish he was still around...

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Chet Baker junkie here!

Always have been. Perfectly aware of the ups and downs of the man. Caught him live a number of times. One never knew what to expect when onbe went to his club dates. Some experiences were a waste of time but when he was in the right setting and the right mood, the man brought bliss!

I return to his recordings pretty often and wish he was still around...

Care to elaborate on a concert you remember in particular (good or bad, or both). You'll be sharing with someone who never got the chance to see him....

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Chet Baker junkie here!

Always have been. Perfectly aware of the ups and downs of the man. Caught him live a number of times. One never knew what to expect when onbe went to his club dates. Some experiences were a waste of time but when he was in the right setting and the right mood, the man brought bliss!

I return to his recordings pretty often and wish he was still around...

Well said, brownie. I share these sentiments. Ups and downs there were, both personally and musically, but the ups could be pretty damned great (whether vocal or instrumental, whether in the early 1950's or the late 1980's). A natural musician if there ever was one.

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someone told me they saw chet in the 70s when he was in his methadone phase. did he ever sober up in the 80s? did he actually survive on H that long

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maybe early in his career he was overrated given what he had achieved until then and given the (low) attention many others, Jack Sheldon, Tony Fruscella, whoever, got...

but the, say, best 20 percent of his albums taken together are a body of work which is simply astonishing...

(at chewy: from what i read he really survived that long... he must have been more robust physically than his 1950s promo pictures want to make you believe)

edit to add: while baker recorded "magical mystery tour" in the sixties, fruscella is reported to simply have said something such as "this is the end" when the beatles arrived in the US... i will never like baker better than fruscella, but baker was tougher it seems :)

Edited by Niko

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For those of you who are huge fans of Chet Bakers' "ups," maybe you could list 10 or so records that you feel to be his biggest ups on wax. I ask that as somebody who has 9 of so Chet Baker discs, mostly from his early years, can enjoying hearing Chet, but has not managed yet to get the kind of deep emotional bang from him that you guys do. Thanks.

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Care to elaborate on a concert you remember in particular (good or bad, or both). You'll be sharing with someone who never got the chance to see him....

First time I saw him live was at the Chat Qui Peche club on the Rue de la Huchette. This was in the fall of 1963. He had a small group that included trombonist Luis Fuentes.

Chet's good looks matched his trumpet playing.

Last time I saw him was at the New Morning club. That was in the mid-eighties. His group had Michel Graillier on piano. His good looks had gone. The deep wrinkles on his face gave him the look at a survivor. Yet his playing was still impressive. I had gone to the New Morning with one of the vice-president of the US company I was working for. The VP had flown into Paris that day and we had dinner to discuss an important meeting the next morning. He was a also jazz fan and wanted to check the Paris jazz scene so off to the New Morning we went. The VP was a bit frightened by Chet's looks but enjoyed the music. We sat for one set which included an astonishing vocal-less version of 'My Funny Valentine' where Chet literally sang with his trumpet! We had to leave after that to catch some sleep!

Don't know too much about the methadone question that chewy was asking about. One of my good friend in the '70s was Gilles Gautherin who produced Chet's 'Broken Wing' 1978 date for Sonopresse. Chet wrote 'Blue Gilles' for that session. Gautherin was a real Chet addict in the full sense of the word. I know Gilles was into methadone and helped Chet with it. Gautherin was given a bad rap - he was unnamed in the book - for having the wrong influence on Chet Baker in an episode of the fine biography 'Deep In a Dream' by James Gavin. From what I know if somebody had the wrong indluence on the other, it was the other way around.

Gautherin died around the same time as Chet!

Edited by brownie

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For those of you who are huge fans of Chet Bakers' "ups," maybe you could list 10 or so records that you feel to be his biggest ups on wax.

John, off the top of my head (and only mentioning albums from his later days output), several that I rate very high:

- Someday My Prince Will Come (SteepleChase)

- The Touch of Your Lips (SteepleChase)

- Chet Baker/René Urtreger/Aldo Romano/Pierre Michelot (Carlyne)

- Live At Nick's (CrissCross)

- Broken Wings (SonoPresse, reissued in the Jazz in Paris series)

- Blues for a Reason (CrissCross) with Warne Marsh

- Chet's Choice (Criss Cross) with Philip Catherine

- Chet Baker in Tokyo 'Four' and 'Memories' (PaddleWheel)

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I remember Herb Geller recalling a late Chet Baker concert; Herb: "He could only play one octave but nobody else could play that octave like Chet."

I've always thought that too little distinction has been made between Baker's pre-middle 1960s playing and afterward. When healthy he had a new fire in his playing that really made some of this period his best. There's the Italian sessions (1960s I think); I heard him at Strykers around 1975-1976, I think, and he was aggressive and brilliant. There are some French concert recordings with Bob Mover that show this side, and a bunch of stuff in various pklaces, particularly from the 1970s, that affirm his new musical personality, IMHO -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Last time I saw him was at the New Morning club. That was in the mid-eighties. His group had Michel Graillier on piano. His good looks had gone. The deep wrinkles on his face gave him the look at a survivor.

in a recent discussion on the chet baker mailing list (one of those "did ... have aids" threads), jeroen de valk claimed that baker's looks had these ups and downs as well... here is a quote from his post:

Chet looked terrible and relatively fine in turn all through the 70s and the

80s. He looked like a ´living corpse´ at a Seattle gig in about ´81,

bass man Chuck Deardorf told me, but there´s a small photo of him - kind

of made for a passport or so - from his last months in the book CB In

Europe that shows him looking just fine. And he´s almost like a young

man on the Candy video from ´85. Kind of unpredictable. His music was

okay, 90 percent of the time, which is remarkable, considering his

hectic and never-ending touring schedule.

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in a recent discussion on the chet baker mailing list (one of those "did ... have aids" threads), jeroen de valk claimed that baker's looks had these ups and downs as well...

I know Chet Baker could still look 'good' in his final years, but the image I'ld rather remember of him would be more like this

bwc-m-jazz1.jpg

Recording session, 1953, Los Angeles.

Photo by Bob Willoughby!

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I know Chet Baker could still look 'good' in his final years, but the image I'ld rather remember of him would be more like this

bwc-m-jazz1.jpg

Recording session, 1953, Los Angeles.

admitted - he didn't stay like this, heroin, however was not the only reason why he lost those looks in the 70s i believe :)

(according to de valk when baker died the initial police protocol estimated his age as around thirty while he really was 58... IIRC the numbers are very close to those in the story surrounding charlie parker's death but with alternated roles: bird was around 30 but was estimated as 53) (and in this sense baker kept his looks one might say)

Edited by Niko

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For those of you who are huge fans of Chet Bakers' "ups," maybe you could list 10 or so records that you feel to be his biggest ups on wax.

John, off the top of my head (and only mentioning albums from his later days output), several that I rate very high:

- Someday My Prince Will Come (SteepleChase)

- The Touch of Your Lips (SteepleChase)

- Chet Baker/René Urtreger/Aldo Romano/Pierre Michelot (Carlyne)

- Live At Nick's (CrissCross)

- Broken Wings (SonoPresse, reissued in the Jazz in Paris series)

- Blues for a Reason (CrissCross) with Warne Marsh

- Chet's Choice (Criss Cross) with Philip Catherine

- Chet Baker in Tokyo 'Four' and 'Memories' (PaddleWheel)

Thanks, Brownie! As it turns out, I have none of those. I have a feeling that a bit of time with good later Chet my change my attitude.

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For those of you who are huge fans of Chet Bakers' "ups," maybe you could list 10 or so records that you feel to be his biggest ups on wax. I ask that as somebody who has 9 of so Chet Baker discs, mostly from his early years, can enjoying hearing Chet, but has not managed yet to get the kind of deep emotional bang from him that you guys do. Thanks.

In addition to those brownie listed, I like:

B000005HFH.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

chet_baker_italian_sessions.jpg

B000000YMJ.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Once Upon A Summertime (Artists House / Galaxy) 1977; a nice quintet session with Gregory Herbert, Harold Danko, Ron Carter, and Mel Lewis.

B00028HO3Q.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1116206898_.jpg

I would also add:

The 1965 Prestige recordings.

Probably tough to find now, but a great mid-70's recording from Italy- "Deep In A Dream Of You" (Moon 026), recorded live in Rome in 1976 with Jacques Pelzer, Harold Danko, and Isla Eckinger. The title track is not to be missed.

Little Girl Blue (Philology) 1988; with Enrico Pieranunzi, Enzo Pietropaoli, and Fabrizio Sferra.

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- Broken Wings (SonoPresse, reissued in the Jazz in Paris series)

:tup

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Am I the only one who enjoys his Riverside albums? (except It Could Happen to You; not a big fan of his vocals) I mean, I know there's better Chet out there, but there's something about these records that I really like.

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Took me a long time to separate my reactions to rabid Chet fans from my reactions to Chet's music.

I know a couple of Chet fans who are downright creepy. One of them is insulted by name in "Deep in a Dream."

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For those of you who are huge fans of Chet Bakers' "ups," maybe you could list 10 or so records that you feel to be his biggest ups on wax. I ask that as somebody who has 9 of so Chet Baker discs, mostly from his early years, can enjoying hearing Chet, but has not managed yet to get the kind of deep emotional bang from him that you guys do. Thanks.

Check out his solo on "To Mickey's Memory" from this one: 724358267129.jpg

It's pretty smokin'

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Count me among the Chet Baker fans, he's one of my favorite trumpeters. I think that he is misjudged in the sense that his name often doesn't come up on the usual lists of trumpet greats although I feel he has well deserved it.

Some of my favorite Chet off the top of my head:

-The Last Great Concert: My Favorite Songs Vol. 1&2

-Chet Baker in Tokyo

-Lonely Star (The Prestige Sessions)

-Stairway To The Stars (The Prestige Sessions)

-On A Misty Night (The Prestige Sessions)

-The Italian Sessions

-Picture of Heath and The Route (with Art Pepper)

-Chet Baker and Crew

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My favorite Chet is Vol. 1 of the four volume Chet In Paris series - Barclay recordings from the mid-50s released by Universal as four separate CDs, not as a box.

Volumes 2 and 3 are good as well. Vol. 4 is a collection of alternate takes.

BMG/Your Music has a compilation of songs taken from these discs entitled Chet In Paris that I don't think is as good as Vol. 1. But the four volume set is now OOP, so if you can get the good music for $5.99, why not go for it?

edit for typo

Edited by GA Russell

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One more thumb up for all four volumes of the "Chet in Paris" series, especially, the material with Dick Twardzik. And another one for "Chet Baker in Tokyo". That's as good late period Chet as you're likely to run into.

Count me a fan of his singing as well. It's interesting that his voice deteriorated right along with the rest of him. He was a more than adequate singer in the early years, but by the end, something of an acquired taste. I equate him to Billie Holiday circa "Lady in Satin", basically running on fumes, but gutting it out on emotion alone. There's a couple of lifetimes of hurt in both those voices.

Up over and out.

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...the "Chet in Paris" series, especially, the material with Dick Twardzik...

Yes, that's the Vol. 1 I was speaking of.

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I'm surprised by everyone's preference (so far) for his later work. I don't know it well at all. As for his earlier stuff (except for the Mulligan Quartet) I only have The Best of Chet Baker Sings, the Anthology "Deep in a Dream" and the Chet with Strings on Columbia-- a record I've loved for nearly 50 years. Is his later work really better?

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I'm surprised by everyone's preference (so far) for his later work. I don't know it well at all. As for his earlier stuff (except for the Mulligan Quartet) I only have The Best of Chet Baker Sings, the Anthology "Deep in a Dream" and the Chet with Strings on Columbia-- a record I've loved for nearly 50 years. Is his later work really better?

It's not better, just different.

I could have listed a number of Chet's early work but I was sure almost everybody here was familiar with it.

The later work had a new dimension to the earlier output. In the better albums, there is a sense of doom (maybe I should say tragic) that brings a perspective to his music which is pretty rare in the jazz art form.

Chet Baker was pretty unique and I really take his music with what's good in it and can tolerate the bad (even if there is a number of his albums I'ld rather forget!).

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