Chet Baker

Biography

Chet Baker, more than ten years after his mysterious death, is more popular than ever. Baker was an extremely handsome young man and this, coupled with his reckless, drug-addled life, earned him the tag the James Dean of Jazz. But even after he lost his looks, Baker's trumpet and vocals continued to spellbind. Jazz snobs like to forget that Charlie Parker chose Baker to be his West Coast foil or that it was Dizzy Gillespie who talked Baker into returning to the trumpet in the '70s after his teeth were knocked out. Baker hit the big time at a very young age, with Gerry Mulligan's groundbreaking piano-less quartet that made a name for West Coast jazz. Baker's trumpet style owed a lot to Miles Davis (though, Baker never used a mute and was ashamed when he beat out Clifford Brown in jazz polls) and his pleasant, thin vocals were just as introspective and well-phrased.
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