domingo, 7 de agosto de 2011

Chet Baker

Chesney Henry "Chet" Baker, Jr. (December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and singer. Though his music earned him a large following (particularly albums featuring his vocals, such as Chet Baker Sings), Baker's popularity was due in part to his "matinee idol-beauty" and "well-publicized drug habit." He died in 1988 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Baker was born and raised in a musical household in Yale, Oklahoma; his father was a professional guitar player. Baker began his musical career singing in a church choir. His father introduced him to brass instruments with a trombone, which was replaced with a trumpet when the trombone proved too large.
Baker received some musical education at Glendale Junior High School, but left school at age 16 in 1946 to join the United States Army. He was posted to Berlin where he joined the 298th Army band. Leaving the army in 1948, he studied theory and harmony at El Camino College in Los Angeles.

He dropped out in his second year, however, re-enlisting in the army in 1950. Baker once again obtained a discharge from the army to pursue a career as a professional musician. Baker became a member of the Sixth Army Band at the Presidio in San Francisco, but was soon spending time in San Francisco jazz clubs such as Bop City and the Black Hawk.
Baker's earliest notable professional gigs were with saxophonist Vido Musso's band, and also with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, though he earned much more renown 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 was an instant phenomenon. Several things made the Mulligan/Baker group special, the most prominent being the interplay between Mulligan's baritone sax and Baker's trumpet. Rather than playing identical melody lines in unison like bebop giants Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, the two would complement each other's playing with contrapuntal touches, and it often seemed as if they had telepathy in anticipating what the other was going to play next. The Quartet's version of "My Funny Valentine", featuring a memorable Baker solo, was a major hit, and became a song with which Baker was intimately associated.
The Quartet found success quickly, but lasted less than a year because of Mulligan's arrest and imprisonment on drug charges.

In 1953, Pacific Jazz released Chet Baker Sings, a record that increased his profile but alienated traditional jazz fans; he would continue to sing throughout his career. Baker formed quartets with Russ Freeman in 1953-54 with bassists Carson Smith, Joe Mondragon, and Jimmy Bond and drummers Shelly Manne, Larry Bunker, and Bob Neel. The quartet was successful in their three live sets in 1954. In that year, Baker won the Downbeat Jazz Poll. Because of his chiseled features, Hollywood studios approached Baker and he made his acting debut in the film Hell's Horizon, released in the fall of 1955. He declined an offer of a studio contract, preferring life on the road as a musician. Over the next few years, Baker fronted his own combos, including a 1955 quintet featuring Francy Boland, where Baker combined playing trumpet and singing. He became an icon of the West Coast "cool school" of jazz, helped by his good looks and singing talent. Baker's 1956 recording, released for the first time in its entirety in 1989 as The Route, with Art Pepper helped further the West Coast jazz sound and became a staple of cool jazz.
Baker was a heroin user from the 1950s for the remainder of his life, and eventually saw his musical career decline as a result. At times, Baker pawned his instruments for money to maintain his drug habit. In the early 1960s, he served more than a year in prison in Italy on drug charges; he was later expelled from both West Germany and the UK 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 Milpitas in northern California where he played music in San Jose and San Francisco between short jail terms served for prescription fraud.
In 1966, Baker was savagely beaten (allegedly while attempting to buy drugs) after a gig in San Francisco, sustaining severe cuts on the lips and broken front teeth, which ruined his embouchure. He stated in the film Let's Get Lost that an acquaintance attempted to rob him one night but backed off, only to return the next night with a group of several men who chased him. He landed finally in a car where he was surrounded. Instead of rescuing him, the people inside the car pushed him back out onto the street where the chase by his attackers continued, and subsequently, he was beaten to the point that his teeth, never in good condition to begin with, were knocked out, leaving him without the ability to play his horn. He took odd jobs, among them pumping gas. Meanwhile he was fitted for dentures and worked on his embouchure. Three months later he got a gig in New York.

Between 1966 and 1974, Baker mostly played flugelhorn and recorded music that could mostly be classified as West Coast Jazz.
After developing a new embouchure due to his dentures, Baker returned to the straight-ahead jazz that began his career, relocating to New York City and began performing and recording again, notably with guitarist Jim Hall. Later in the seventies, Baker 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.
From 1978 until his death, Baker resided and played almost exclusively in Europe, returning to the USA roughly once per year for a few performance dates.
From 1978 to 1988 was Baker's most prolific era as a recording artist. However, as his extensive output is strewn across numerous, mostly small European labels, none of these recordings ever reached a wider audience, even though many of them were well-received by critics, who maintain that the period was one of Baker's most mature and rewarding. Of particular importance are Baker's quartet featuring the pianist Phil Markowitz (1978–80) and his trio with guitarist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (1983–85). He also toured with saxophonist Stan Getz during this period.
In 1983, British singer Elvis Costello, a longtime fan of Baker, hired the trumpeter to play a solo on his song "Shipbuilding", from the album Punch the Clock. The song was a top 40 hit in the UK, and exposed Baker's music to a new audience. Later, Baker often featured Costello's song "Almost Blue" (inspired by Baker's version of "The Thrill Is Gone") in his live sets, and recorded the song on Let's Get Lost, a documentary film about his life.

The video material recorded by Japanese television during Baker's 1987 tour in Japan showed a man whose face looked much older than he was; however, his trumpet playing was alert, lively and inspired. Fans and critics alike agree that the live album Chet Baker in Tokyo, recorded less than a year before his death and released posthumously, ranks among Baker's very best. "Silent Nights", another critically acclaimed release, and Baker's only recording of Christmas music, was recorded with Christopher Mason in New Orleans in 1986 and released in 1987.
Chet Baker's compositions included "Chetty's Lullaby", "Freeway", "Early Morning Mood", "Two a Day", "So Che Ti Perderò" ("I Know I Will Lose You"), "Il Mio Domani" ("My Tomorrow"), "Motivo Su Raggio Di Luna" ("Tune on a Moon Beam"), "The Route", "Skidadidlin'", "New Morning Blues", "Blue Gilles", "Dessert", and "Anticipated Blues".
At about 3:00 am on May 13, 1988, Baker was found dead on Prins Hendrikkade, near Zeedijk, on the street below his second-story room (Room 210) of Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with serious wounds to his head. Heroin and cocaine were found in his hotel room, and an autopsy also found these drugs in his body. There was no evidence of a struggle, and the death was ruled an accident.
Baker's body was brought home for interment in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. A plaque outside the hotel now memorializes him. There is some question about whether Bakers' death was accidental or if he was murdered.



Chesney Henry Baker Jr., Chet Baker (Yale, 23 de diciembre de 1929 - Ámsterdam, 13 de mayo de 1988) fue un trompetista y cantante estadounidense de jazz.
Se trata de uno de los músicos de jazz más populares de la historia: imagen, biografía, leyenda y cualidades artísticas conformaron un artista sumamente atractivo para el gran público, desbordando los habituales círculos restringidos del jazz. Su música, exponente del estilo cool (el west coast jazz de los años cincuenta), es sumamente accesible y delicada, y casi siempre está vinculada a la balada intimista, lírica y delicada, tanto en su vertiente instrumental como vocal. La trompeta de Chet Baker suena con una suavidad y tranquilidad similar a la de su voz.
El padre de Baker, Chesney Henry Baker, Sr., era guitarrista y su madre trabajaba en una perfumería. En 1940 se trasladaron de Yale a Glendale, en California. Siendo niño, Baker cantó en concursos de aficionados y en el coro de la iglesia. En su adolescencia, el padre le compró un trombón, que luego reemplazaría por una trompeta al ser este primero demasiado grande para el chico. Su primer aprendizaje musical tuvo lugar en el instituto de Glendale, aunque su formación musical terminó siendo puramente intuitiva. En 1946, con 16 años, abandonó la escuela y se enroló en el ejército. Fue enviado a Berlín, donde tocó en la 298th Army Band. Tras su regreso, en 1948, se apuntó a El Camino College en Los Ángeles, donde estudió teoría y armonía mientras tocaba en los clubes de jazz; abandonó los estudios al segundo año. Se volvió a alistar en el ejército en 1950 y se convirtió en miembro de la Sixth Army Band en el Presidio, en San Francisco. Siguió actuando en los clubes de la ciudad y finalmente consiguió por segunda y definitiva vez su liberación del ejército para convertirse en un músico profesional de jazz.

Inicialmente, Baker tocó en la banda de Vido Musso y luego con Stan Getz. (La primera grabación de Baker es una interpretación de "Out of Nowhere" que aparece en una toma de una jam session realizada el 24 de marzo de 1952). Su éxito llegó rápidamente cuando en la primavera de 1952 fue elegido para tocar con Charlie Parker, debutando en el Tiffany Club de Los Ángeles el 29 de mayo de 1952. Ese mismo verano, empezó a tocar en el cuarteto de Gerry Mulligan, grupo compuesto sólo de saxo barítono, trompeta, bajo y batería, sin piano, que atrajo la atención durante sus actuaciones en el nightclub Haig consiguiendo realizar grabaciones para el recién creado sello Pacific Jazz Records (más tarde conocido como World Pacific Records). El primer LP fue Gerry Mulligan Quartet, que incluía la famosa interpretación de Baker de "My Funny Valentine".
El Gerry Mulligan Quartet duró apenas un año: en junio de 1953 su líder ingresó en la cárcel por drogas. Baker formó su propio cuarteto, que en principio contaba con Russ Freeman al piano, Red Mitchell al bajo y Bobby White a la batería; realizó su primera grabación como líder para Pacific Jazz el 24 de julio de 1953. En 1954, Pacific Jazz realizó Chet Baker Sings, un disco que incrementó su popularidad y que le haría seguir cantando el resto de su carrera. Su popularidad le hizo trabajar en una película, Hell's Horizon, de 1955, pero declinó un contrato con unos estudios para llevar a cabo una gira europea desde septiembre de 1955 a abril de 1956. A su regreso a Estados Unidos formó un quinteto con el saxofonista Phil Urso y el pianista Bobby Timmons. Contrariando su reputación de intérprete relajado, Baker tocó con este grupo al estilo bebop, que grabaría el disco Chet Baker & Crew para Pacific Jazz en julio de 1956.
Realizó una gira por Estados Unidos en febrero de 1957 con los Birdland All-Stars. Regresó a Europa en 1959, concretamente a Italia. Mientras tanto, Hollywood realiza en 1960 una biografía ficcionalizada de Baker, All the Fine Young Cannibals.

Baker se había vuelto adicto a la heroína en los cincuenta y había sido encarcelado varias veces durante periodos cortos de tiempo. No obstante, no sería hasta los años sesenta que su adicción empezara a interferir en su carrera musical. Fue arrestado en Italia en el verano de 1960 y pasó casi un año y medio entre rejas. Celebró su regreso grabando en 1962 Chet Is Back! para la RCA. A finales de año, sin embargo, fue arrestado en Alemania occidental y expulsado a Suiza, luego a Francia y, finalmente, a Inglaterra. Pero fue deportado de nuevo a Francia a causa de otro problema con las drogas en 1963. Vivió en París y durante todo el año siguiente actuó en Francia y España, pero tras ser arrestado una vez más en Alemania occidental, fue deportado a Estados Unidos, a donde llegó en 1964. Tocó en Nueva York y en Los Ángeles a mediados de los sesenta, cambiando temporalmente la trompeta por el fliscorno. En el verano de 1966, sufrió una gran paliza en San Francisco que estaba relacionada con su adicción a las drogas. Como consecuencia de ella, sufrió algún desperfecto en su dentadura que le llevó a modificar su embocadura en la trompeta. Hacia finales de los sesenta, grababa y actuaba sólo de forma ocasional; a comienzos de los setenta, se retiró por completo.
Retomando cierto control sobre su vida gracias a tomar metadona para controlar su adicción a la heroína, y con la inestimable ayuda de su colega Dizzy Gillespie, Baker regresó fundamentalmente con dos actuaciones: una en un importante club neoyorkino en 1973 y otra en un concierto con Gerry Mulligan en el Carnegie Hall en 1974. Hacia mediados de los setenta, Baker regresó a Europa donde seguiría actuando de forma regular, con viajes ocasionales a Japón y regresos a Estados Unidos. Atrajo también la atención de los músicos de rock, con quienes llegó a actuar, por ejemplo con Elvis Costello en 1983. En 1987, el fotógrafo y director de cine Bruce Weber emprendió la grabación de un documental sobre Baker. Al año siguiente, Baker moriría al caer por la ventana de un hotel en Ámsterdam tras ingerir heroína y cocaína. La película de Bruce Weber, Let's Get Lost, estrenada en 1988, consiguió una nominación a los óscar.
En 1997, fue publicada su autobiografía inacabada con el título de As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir. Sus restos se encuentran en el Cementerio Inglewood Park de Los Ángeles, California.

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