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Chet Baker, misjudged?

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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?

Better? It's hard to say because"better" is such a subjective and relative term. Most certainly his later work is as enjoyable as his earlier work. If you don't know his later work well and really love his earlier stuff then you really owe it to yourself to seek out some of the later works noted above. My ultimate favorites among those others and myself have listed are "Chat Baker In Tokyo" and the 3 Prestige Sessions releases (Chet on flugelhorn). There's some wonderful George Coleman in those as well.

Edited by mikelz777

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Actually I do have the video of Chet at Ronnie Scott's. To be honest I got it becaseu I'm a Van Morrison fanatic. I used to own "The Most Important Jazz Album of 1963" or whatever it was called. Didn't think it lived up to the title.

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Chet Baker was not in good shape during the shooting of the video at Ronnie Scott's. It shows! He was off and even his trumpet solos do not make much real sense!

One of his lesser appearances!

Forget about that one!

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I assume many of you have seen the film "Let's Get Lost". In a word, that is a sobering experience. Still, it's a good and a fair look at the early '80's Baker, even with all the scabs pulled off. Not pretty, but fascinating. It's kind of like a car wreck in that you can't stop looking at it. If you haven't seen this and you're lucky enough to find a copy, don't pass up the opportunity.

Up over and out.

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I'm surprised by everyone's preference (so far) for his later work.

The things I listed span his entire career. I don't prefer his later work. I think there are gems scattered throughout, as I said in my first post. His singing and playing changed over those 35 years, and I have favorites amongst all of it.

Al, I do like most of the Riverside material too... I just don't think of any of those albums individually as favorites.

I agree that the film is a sobering experience. I got it when it came out on VHS, and I've only watched it about 3 times. I try to forget about Chet's personal life, and just focus on the music. I never even bought the Gavin book.

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Unfortunately I think "Let's Get Lost" is oop. and has never been available as a DVD. I avoided seeing it when it first came out because it sounded exploitative. Now I wish I hadn't been so squeemish.

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Unfortunately I think "Let's Get Lost" is oop. and has never been available as a DVD. I avoided seeing it when it first came out because it sounded exploitative. Now I wish I hadn't been so squeemish.

Not the film in question, but here's a nice l-o-n-g film compilation:

Chet compilation on YouTube

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Chet Baker, misjudged?

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.

I forgot to mention... I've always thought that Chet was a bad mf, and always thought it was clear in terms of his musical legacy. What exactly did you mean re "misjudged"?...

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Chet is probably the jazz musician whose recognition is most different in the States and the rest of the world.

In Europe, he's considered a legend based on all of his recodings including the 1980's, while in the US only his 50's recordings were considered essential. In the Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide from 1979, none of his records were rated more than 3 stars (out of a maximum of 5). It's hard to understand why so many US critics dismissed his later career.

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Chet Baker, misjudged?

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.

I forgot to mention... I've always thought that Chet was a bad mf, and always thought it was clear in terms of his musical legacy. What exactly did you mean re "misjudged"?...

I guess when I say "misjudged".... I mean his music is usually qualified when people speak of it. Like, he's a Miles rip-off. He was horrible later in life. He was horrible early in life. His singing was horrible. He couldn't navigate difficult music. I mean, to me, for what he was doing stylistically...he had one of the most creative minds in jazz. Whether his playing was a total mess or his greatest work...he was trying to get something different out of the song and his instrument. He was pretty daring. When you listen, you just don't know what his next note is going to be. Listen his version of "Over The Rainbow" on Chet Is Back.

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Gotcha. I was just curious if you meant that you had perhaps misjudged his music at first, or what. Obviously, Chet is controversial, for a variety of reasons. People have different tastes, and I have no problem with people who can't stand Chet's singing, for example. It works for me (most of the time), but I can easily see the problem a lot of people have. What kind of bothers me is people judging the music based on the personal problems. As for the whole Miles thing, I think that's simplistic and largely unfair. Something for critics to bitch about.

I agree about Chet's tendency to be daring. He wasn't afraid to go out on a limb, because he was such a natural musician... didn't know what chords the pianist was playing, didn't know what key he was playing in... and he didn't need to know.

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misjudged, as well, I think, because he recorded too much, good and bad - classic junkie situation, anything for a payday; also, there ARE times in the 1950s when he does sound like Miles on a particularly bad day, like the Riverside with Haig/Griffin/Philly Joe; probably everybody was strung out that day in one way or another.

- however, I have a feeling that those who hate him have not heard the post 1970s recordings on which he completely renews himself, not just as good as the old Chet but better, newly aggressive and creative -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Don't forget *Chet Baker - The Improvisor* on Cadence ('83) ... and on Philology *Chet Baker Trio - Live from the Moonlight ('85)* ... Early or late, when he was really playing, he was up there with the greats...

Q

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I like the later recordings (on a good day) the best myself. His fragmentary (and short) memoir, As Though I had Wings, is an interesting read.

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Unfortunately I think "Let's Get Lost" is oop. and has never been available as a DVD. I avoided seeing it when it first came out because it sounded exploitative. Now I wish I hadn't been so squeemish.

Something about the new DVD here, among other interesting info on Chet:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/sto...tainment/Music/

- Jostein

Edited by jostber

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My all time favourite is "The Best of Chet Baker Sings", a really wonderful record:

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Chet-Baker-Sing...TF8&s=music

These are also great:

Chet is Back(in great shape, brilliant material):

http://www.amazon.com/Chet-Back-Baker/dp/B...TF8&s=music

Baby Breeze("The Touch of your lips" version here might have been his greatest vocal ever, among other wonderful tunes:

http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Breeze-Chet-Bak...TF8&s=music

Chet Baker Plays for Lovers(brilliant compilation of Riverside recordings):

http://www.amazon.com/Chet-Baker-Plays-Lov...TF8&s=music

Do it the hard way(another fine Riverside compilation):

http://www.amazon.com/Do-Hard-Way-Chet-Bak...TF8&s=music

Career: 1952-1988(the best overview of his whole career):

http://www.amazon.com/Career-1952-1988-Che...3621517?ie=UTF8

Now, with all the great music on the recordings above, anyone would see and hear that Chet was a genius performer of jazz who should be regarded as that.

Edited by jostber

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This thread is interesting to me. I've never really gotten into Chets sound but I think that is because I'm only familiar with the music that received airplay on the radio. I don't own any of this recordings and never had the desire to dig into his career.

I have a friend who is learning to play the trumpet at the age of 50. His goal is to be able to play Chets solos note for note. He can do this on the harmonica but has picked up the trumpet with just this one goal in mind. He holds Chet in high regard - easily on par with Miles Davis. That's a stretch for me.

Could his commercial success be one of the reasons why he is controversial? Have I been exposed only to his mediocre output?

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i played a lot of late period baker in the last few days... since this is the "being nice" week at the org let's say late period baker is not better but different (though what i would say is that while in the fifties baker was good but miles davis was much better, in the sixties and most of the seventies baker was not quite as good and miles was much better the years from 1978 onwards so clearly go to baker it's ridicuolous)

i can somehow enjoy the quartet with mulligan but it doesn't do that much for me, i like some of the riversides and the albums with george coleman though mostly for the sidemen, what i do like of the earlier (60s) stuff are his collaborations with rene thomas... but some of the late period albums i really wouldn't want to miss, especially the trios... they are so direct and open-minded (one story from de valks great baker bio is by philip catherine how he was somewhat hesitant to bring his electronic effects to the gig with an old guy like baker at first, then just did it and baker only smiled and said something like "oh my gosh, so much stuff" and that was it) (i also appreciate that these albums don't involve much singing...)

not all of the 100+ albums baker made after 1976 or so were briliiant (or even decent) but the best ones are... some i have enjoyed over the last few days are

candy (on sonet, trio with michel graillier and jean louis rassinfosse)

rassinfosse/baker/catherine (igloo, guess i was lucky to find that one)

strollin' (enja, same band as the last, almost as good and easier to find)

broken wing (jazz in paris, quartet with phil markowitz)

at capolinea (red records, a sextet)

edit to add: the 100+ i also got from de valk, it's "appearances on record including bootlegs" but the number of albums is still astonishing...

another edit: the number of albums (including bootlegs - but that line is hard to draw with an artist like baker who would record for anyone if he got a one time fee of 1000$ or so, and co-led things) after 1974 is actually 110+

Edited by Niko

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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.
That's b/c he is.........Best ears ever.

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Unfortunately I think "Let's Get Lost" is oop. and has never been available as a DVD. I avoided seeing it when it first came out because it sounded exploitative. Now I wish I hadn't been so squeemish.

I saw it several times when it came out, mainly for the many old film clips included, and due to the thought that I'd probably never get the chance to see it again on the big screen. And I was right on that count...I haven't.

BTW, I didn't care for his singing then, and don't care for it now. Just not my cup of tea.

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This thread is interesting to me. I've never really gotten into Chets sound but I think that is because I'm only familiar with the music that received airplay on the radio. I don't own any of this recordings and never had the desire to dig into his career. Could his commercial success be one of the reasons why he is controversial? Have I been exposed only to his mediocre output?

How are we to know what you heard on the radio? At any rate, I highly doubt that what you have been exposed to is his "mediocre output". I think that tends to be the more obscure stuff from his european years when he was over-recording. If you don't dig him, there's nothing wrong with that, but it would help if you were more specific about what you've heard and your reaction to it.

I have a friend who is learning to play the trumpet at the age of 50. His goal is to be able to play Chets solos note for note. He can do this on the harmonica but has picked up the trumpet with just this one goal in mind. He holds Chet in high regard - easily on par with Miles Davis. That's a stretch for me.

I'm not a trumpet player, but I too hold Chet in high regard as a trumpet player and singer (with exceptions, of course) with an incredible natural ear, and I don't think it's a stretch to say he's on a par with some of the greatest trumpet players in jazz history. I know some would disagree, but there's no correct answer, so...

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People have different tastes, and I have no problem with people who can't stand Chet's singing, for example.

Whew! 'Cause I gotta tell you, it creeps me out. I've only owned a few Chet discs, and would only buy one if I was assured he didn't sing on it.

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On Chet's latter period records: "Diane", a duo with Paul Bley on SteepleChase is phenomenal. One of my favorite CDs.

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Another late-period recording that I really like is the Live in Tokyo twofer.

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Well count me in as a Chet Baker junkie. For me it's his musical instincts.

Chet played from the heart. Always melodic and not afraid to take chances.

If there ever was a jazzman, he was it.

Saw him live a couple of times. The only time when it was really distressing

was at a duo concert with Paul Bley in the late 80's at the Montreal Jazz fest.

After having waited for Chet to make it to the hall, he was completly strung out.

Could not play his horn and kept falling off his chair. The concert had to be cancelled.

So many Chet's recordings, of course all of the mid 50's dates in Los Angeles with Russ Freeman.

Also all of the Prestige's dates in the sixties with George Coleman. I heard that Chet felt cheated by

the producer for these.

I love the way Chet described how Bird hired him when he came to Los Angeles and he was looking for

a trumpet player. Some tracks are available of Chet and Bird at the TradeWinds club.

Denis :cool:

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