April 10, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Chet Baker

Chet Baker was born in Oklahoma in 1929, but grew up in Glendale California. His big break came when he started playing with Charlie Parker in the early 1950s. Later, Baker would play in the great Gerry Mulligan Quartet. By 1953 Baker had formed his own quartet and was beginning to record for Pacific Jazz. In the 1950s Baker toured the US and occasionally Europe, and played for a while with the Birdland All Stars. Throughout the 60s Baker was one of the leading jazz masters helping to create the cool jazz sound of west coast jazz. Sadly at the same time he developed a lifelong addiction to heroin (which, along with cocaine, was the likely cause of his death in 1988 after a fall from a hotel balcony).

Baker was always a pure trumpeter, and on tracks like "Isn't it Romantic" and "Moonlight Becomes You" he made the music his very own. He took each song he played and shaped it into something extra special. But, what most people don't realize is that he wasn't just one of the great trumpeters, no even more than that Chet Baker had one of the suavest voices to ever croon a tune. Like smooth velvet, his voice knew no bounds and needed no embellishment. On songs like "Look for the Silver Lining", and the song here 1955's "Let's Get Lost" --perhaps the best lounge-like jazz song I've ever heard-- you will hear a voice that just demands a long, slow swallow of straight, cold gin in honor of such sophisticated coolness.

Chet Baker -- Let's Get Lost