Along with bebop jazz giants Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker became an instant icon of the West Coast school of cool jazz in the early and mid-’50s, helped along by his good looks and singing talent. His voice swam up and down musical staves with a velvet ease, melting the ears of listeners everywhere. As a trumpeter, his intimate playing style mimicked his vocal timbre, making the instrument sing out melodies like it was simply a microphone.
He attracted attention beyond jazz for his photogenic looks and female popularity, but his career was marred by drug addiction. He was arrested in Italy in the summer of 1960 and spent almost a year and a half in jail for possession. In the summer of 1966, he suffered a severe beating in San Francisco by his heroin dealer, knocking his front teeth out and forcing him to retrain his embouchure in order to play the trumpet again. Tragically, in 1988, Baker was found dead after falling from his hotel near the drug dealing area of Amsterdam, after taking a lethal amount of heroin and cocaine. It is believed that his death was an accident.
Marking the 25th anniversary since his death, we thought we’d collate our five favourite tracks from what is arguably one of the best cool jazz records of all time, Chet Baker Sings. Listen to the playlist and view the tracklist below:
1. It’s Always You
2. There will never be another you
3. My Funny Valentine
4. I Fall In Love Too Easliy
5. Let’s Get Lost