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Chet Baker

From Academic Kids

Chesney Henry "Chet" Baker Jr. (December 23, 1929May 13, 1988) was an American jazz musician.

Raised in a musical household in Oklahoma (his father was a guitar player), and coming of age in Southern California during the bebop era of jazz, Baker found success as a trumpet player 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 lasted less than a year because of Mulligan's arrest on drug charges. In 1954, Baker won the Downbeat Jazz Poll, beating Miles Davis among others. Over the next few years, Baker fronted his own combo, playing trumpet and singing. His good looks and singing talent helped make him an icon of the west coast "cool school" of jazz.

In the early '60s, drug addiction caught up with Baker, and his promising musical career declined as a result. Heroin addiction created a myriad of legal problems for him as well; he ended up serving more than a year in prison in Italy, and was later expelled from both West Germany and England 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 northern California where he was active in San Jose and San Francisco between short jail terms served for writing his own prescriptions. In 1971, Baker was severely beaten while attempting to buy drugs after a gig in San Francisco. Accounts of the incident vary, largely because of his lack of reliable testimony on the matter. The beating left Baker without front teeth which meant that he had to learn to play with dentures, a difficult process for a brass player. After overcoming this musical disability, he moved to New York City and began recording again with other well known jazz musicians such as Jim Hall. Baker eventually 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.

Baker recorded extensively throughout his career, mainly because of his overwhelming need for money to buy drugs. As a result, his discography is considered widely uneven. However, some of Baker's European recordings, made near the end of his career, reveal a more mature and, at times, brilliant talent with simplicity and depth beyond his previous work.

Near the end of Baker's life, he resided and played almost exclusively in Europe, returning to the USA about once a year for a few performance dates. On May 13, 1988, he fell (or was pushed) from his second story hotel window in Amsterdam and died. Baker most probably was under the influence of drugs. A plaquette outside the hotel memorializes him. Baker's body was brought home for interment in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. Coincidentally, May 13, 1988 is a Friday the 13th.

Partial Discography

  • Haig '53: the other pianoless quartet (1953) (Philology)
  • L.A get together (1953) (Frehs Sound)
  • Chet Baker & strings [bonus tracks] (1953) (Columbia/Legacy)
  • Chet Baker sings (1953) (Pacific)
  • Compositions and arrangements by Jack Montrose (1953) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Grey December (1953) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Quartet live, vol. 1: This time the dream's on me (1953) (Blue Note)
  • Witch doctor (1953) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • Chet Baker big band (1954) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Chet Baker sextet (1954) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Jazz at Ann Arbor (1954) (Pacific Jazz)
  • My funny Valentine (1954) (Philology)
  • Quartet live, vol. 2: Out of nowhere (1954) (Blue Note)
  • Quartet live, vol. 3: My old flame (1954) (Blue Note)
  • The trumpet artistry of Chet Baker (1954) (Pacific)
  • Chet Baker sings and plays with Bud Shank, Russ Freeman & strings (1955) (Pacific Jazz)
  • In Europe, 1955 (1955) (Philology)
  • At the Forum Theater (1956) (Fresh Sound)
  • Chet Baker & Crew (1956) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Chet Baker cools out (1956) (Boblicity)
  • Chet Baker in Europe (1956) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Chet Baker sings (1956) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Live in Europe 1956 (1956) (Accord)
  • Playboys (1956) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Quartet: Russ Freeman/Chet Baker (1956) (Pacific Jazz)
  • The James Dean story (1956) (Blue Note)
  • Embraceable you (1957) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Pretty/groovy (1957) (World Pacific)
  • Chet (The lyrical trumpet of Chet Baker) (1958) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • Chet Baker in New York (1958) (Riverside/OJC)
  • Chet Baker introduces Johnny Pace (1958) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • Chet Baker meets Stan Getz (1958) (Verve)
  • Chet Baker sings it could happen to you (1958) (Riverside/OJC)
  • Theme music from « The James Dean story » (1958) (World Pacific)
  • Chet (1959) (Riverside)
  • Chet Baker in Milan (1959) (Jazzland/OJC)
  • Chet Baker plays (1959) (Riverside)
  • Chet Baker plays the best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • Chet Baker with fifty Italian strings (1959) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • Picture of heath (1961) (Pacific Jazz)
  • Chet is back! (1962) (RCA)
  • Chet is back! (1962) (Bluebird)
  • Somewhere over the rainbow (1962) (Bluebird)
  • The most important jazz album of 1964/65 (1964) (Roulette Jazz)
  • Brussels 1964 (1964) (Landscape)
  • Chet Baker sings and plays (1964) (Colpix)
  • Stella by starlight (1964) (CMA)
  • Baby breeze (1965) (Limelight)
  • Baker's holiday: plays & sings Billie Holiday (1965) (EmArcy)
  • Boppin' with the Chet Baker quintet (1965) (Prestige)
  • Comin' on with the Chet Baker quintet (1965) (Prestige)
  • Cool burnin' with the Chet Baker quintet (1965) (Prestige)
  • Groovin' with the Chet Baker quintet (1965) (Prestige)
  • Smokin' (1965) (Prestige)
  • A taste of tequila (1966) (World Pacific)
  • Hats off!!! (1966) (World Pacific)
  • Into my life (1966) (World Pacific)
  • Live at Pueblo, Colorado 1966 (1966) (Baker)
  • Quietly, there (1966) (World Pacific)
  • Polka dots and moonbeams (1967) (Jazzland)
  • Albert's house (1969) (Par)
  • Blood, Chet & tears (1970) (Verve)
  • She was too good to me (1974) (Columbia)
  • Once upon a summertime (1977) (Original Jazz Classics)
  • The incredible Chet Baker plays and sings (1977) (Carosellp)
  • At le Dreher (1978) (West Wind)
  • Broken wing (1978) (Inner City)
  • Live at Nick's (1978) (Criss Cross)
  • Live in Chateauvallon, 1978 (1978) (Esoldun)
  • Sings, plays: Live at the Keystone Korner (1978) (High Note)
  • Two a day (1978) (All life)
  • 79 (1979) (Celluloid)
  • Ballads for two (1979) (Sandra)
  • Chet Baker with Wolfgang Lackerschmid (1979) (Inakustik)
  • Day break (1979) (SteepleChase)
  • Live in Montmartre, vol. 2 (1979) (SteepleChase)
  • No problem (1979) (SteepleChase)
  • Someday my prince will come (1979) (SteepleChase)
  • The touch of your lips (1979) (SteepleChase)
  • This is always (1979) (steepleChase)
  • Together (1979) (Enja)
  • With special guests (featuring Coryell, Williams & Williams) (1979) (Inakustik)
  • Burnin' at Backstreet (1980) (Fresh Sounds)
  • Chet Baker and the Boto Brasilian Quartet (1980) (Dreyfus)
  • Just friends (1980) (Circle)
  • Live at the Subway, Vol. 1 (1980) (Circle)
  • Live at the Subway, Vol. 2 (1980) (Circle)
  • Night bird (1980) (WestWind)
  • Nightbird (1980) (Retro Music)
  • Live at Fat Tuesday's (1981) (Fresh Sound)
  • Live at the Paris Festival (1981) (DIW)
  • Live in Paris (1981) (Norma)
  • In concert (1982) (India Navigation)
  • Out of nowhere (1982) (Milestone)
  • Peace (1982) (Enja)
  • Studio Trieste (1982) (CTI)
  • At Capolinea (1983) (Red)
  • Club 21 Paris, Vol. 1 (1983) (Philology)
  • Live at New Morning (1983) (Marshmallow)
  • Live in Sweden with Åke Johansson trio (1983) (Dragon)
  • Mister B (1983) ()
  • Mr. B (1983) (Timeless)
  • September song (1983) (Marshmallow)
  • Star eyes (1983) (Marshmallow)
  • The improviser (1983) (Cadence Jazz)
  • Blues for a reason (1984) (Criss Cross)
  • Line for Lyons (1984) (Sonet)
  • Candy (1985) (Gazell)
  • Chet Baker in Bologna (1985) (Dreyfus)
  • Chet's choice (1985) (Criss Cross)
  • Diane: Chet Baker and Paul Bley (1985) (SteepleChase)
  • Hazy hugs (1985) (Limetree)
  • Live from the moonlight (1985) (Philology)
  • Misty (1985) (IRD)
  • My foolish heart (1985) (IRD)
  • Sings again (1985) (Bellaphon)
  • Strollin' (1985) (Enja)
  • Symphonically (1985) (Soul Note)
  • There'll never be another you (1985) (Timeless)
  • Time after time (1985) (IRD)
  • Tune up (1985) (Westwind)
  • As time goes by (1986) (Timeless)
  • As time goes by [love songs] (1986) (Timeless)
  • Chet Baker featuring Van Morrison live at Ronnie Scott's (1986) (DRG)
  • Live at Ronnie Scott's (1986) (Drg)
  • When sunny gets blue (1986) (SteepleChase)
  • A night at the Shalimar (1987) (Philology)
  • Chet Baker in Tokyo (1987) (Evidence)
  • Chet Baker sings and plays from the film « Let's get lost » (1987) (Jive/Novus)
  • Four: live in Tokyo, vol. 2 (1987) (Paddle Wheel)
  • Memories: Chet Baker in Tokyo (1987) (Paddle Wheel)
  • Welcome back (1987) (Westwind)
  • Farewell (1988) (Timeless)
  • In memory of (1988) (L & R Music)
  • Little girl blue (1988) (Philology)
  • My favourite songs, vol. 2: Straight from the heart (1988) (Enja)
  • My favourite songs, vols. 1-2: The last great concert (1988) (Enja)
  • Oh you crazy moon (1988) (Enja Justin Time)
  • Straight from the heart (1988) (Enja)
  • The heart of the ballad (1988) (Phililogy)

External links

de:Chet Baker fr:Chet Baker lb:Chet Baker nl:Chet Baker nds:Chet Baker no:Chet Baker pt:Chet Baker

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