Early this year May 13th marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Chet Baker, today we celebrate his life, because on this date in 1929 Chesney Henry “Chet” Baker, Jr. Well, back in the day I was not a Chet Baker fan. But through the years I would be listening to jazz radio and one would come this great trumpet or flugelhorn and I usually know that I was listening to the horn of Chet Baker. As I started to collect more and more jazz over the last ten years more of Chet’s music has made its way into my library. Looking over his discography at AllMusic, I realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface of HIS music from a career that ran from 1952 to his death in 1988. During his career he released well over 100 albums on nine major labels plus many smaller labels predominately in Europe. The main reason that he recorded so many albums according to AllMusic.com was that ….
a drug addiction caused him to lead a disorganized and peripatetic life, his constant need for cash requiring him to accept many ill-advised recording offers, while his undependability prevented him from making long-term commitments to record labels. As a result, his discography is extensive and wildly uneven.
This afternoon as completed one of the tasks that I dread about Christmas putting the tree up and the lights on the tunes on Chet Baker In New York kept my “cool”! Lindsay Planer writes in her review of the album at AllMusic:
Chet Baker’s West Coast cool comes to the Big Apple on Chet Baker in New York. The project would be Baker’s first — in a four album deal — with the Big Apple-based Riverside Records. The bicoastal artist incorporates his decidedly undernourished sound and laid-back phrasing into the styling of Al Haig (piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). The results are uniformly brilliant as Baker’s cool-toned solos fly and bop with authority around the equally impressive supporting soloists. Conversely, the same cohesive unity continues on the introspective numbers that are more akin to Baker’s California cool. Undoubtedly one of the charms of this collection is the distinct choice of material. Running the gamut from the relaxed and soothing “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and equally serene “Blue Thoughts” at one end of the spectrum to the percolating and driving intensity of “Hotel 49” on the other. This track features each quintet member taking extended solos corralling together at the head and again at the coda for some intense bop interaction Continue Reading
You can check out and purchase Chet’s music here at Chet Baker’s Private Label Music managed by his son, Paul Baker.
I was going to close with David Wilcox’s “Chet Bakers Unsung Swan Song ” but since the song deals with his last thoughts I decided that it was not the right song for his birthday. (You can watch it here) . So let’s rather go “into the night” listening to “Hotel 49” from Chet Baker in New York and Happy Birthday, Chet wherever you are!