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Chet Baker

Chet Baker

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Chet Baker's substantial achievements as a jazzman were often overshadowed by his tragic story and dark charisma. An Oklahoma native, he honed his chops playing trumpet and fluegelhorn in the Army and in the San Francisco clubs. After tours with Stan Getz and Charlie Parker, he achieved fame after joining the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952. Baker launched his own quartet the following year and became a key player in the West Coast cool jazz movement; Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine" was an early signature number. And his James Dean-like leading-man looks didn't go unnoticed: The 1954 album Chet Baker Sings featured romantic standards and introduced him to pop audiences; the following year saw his acting debut in the film Hell's Horizon (1955). He worked with a larger group and a livelier bop sound on the 1956 album Chet Baker & Crew, and in 1960 starred in the autobiographical film All The Fine Young Cannibals. Yet his heroin addiction derailed his career for the first time during the early '60s; he served a year's jail time in Italy and was then deported from West Germany. A failed drug deal in Sausalito resulted in his teeth being knocked out in a beating; Baker had to get a full set of...

Chet Baker's substantial achievements as a jazzman were often overshadowed by his tragic story and dark charisma. An Oklahoma native, he honed his chops playing trumpet and fluegelhorn in the Army and in the San Francisco clubs. After tours with Stan Getz and Charlie Parker, he achieved fame after joining the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952. Baker launched his own quartet the following year and became a key player in the West Coast cool jazz movement; Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine" was an early signature number. And his James Dean-like leading-man looks didn't go unnoticed: The 1954 album Chet Baker Sings featured romantic standards and introduced him to pop audiences; the following year saw his acting debut in the film Hell's Horizon (1955). He worked with a larger group and a livelier bop sound on the 1956 album Chet Baker & Crew, and in 1960 starred in the autobiographical film All The Fine Young Cannibals. Yet his heroin addiction derailed his career for the first time during the early '60s; he served a year's jail time in Italy and was then deported from West Germany. A failed drug deal in Sausalito resulted in his teeth being knocked out in a beating; Baker had to get a full set of dentures before he was able to play again. He continued to record and by 1974 had achieved a comeback, reuniting with Mulligan for a well-received live album at Carnegie Hall. From then on he lived and performed mainly in Europe, he recorded prolifically and his career was further revived by rock and pop associations: Van Morrison sang on his 1986 version of "Send in the Clowns," recorded live in London; Baker also played a famous solo on Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding" and made Costello's "Almost Blue" a late-career signature tune. His addiction to heroin ultimately claimed his life; Baker died after a fall from an Amsterdam hotel window. The Academy Award-nominated documentary Let's Get Lost was released in September 1988, four months after Baker's death. In 2016, Ethan Hawke starred in a Chet Baker biopic, "Born to Be Blue" (2016).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Chet's Romance (1988) Voice
4.
 Chet's Romance (1988) Trumpeter
5.
 Let's Get Lost (1988)
6.
 Stolen Hours (1963) Himself
7.
 Hell's Horizon (1955) Jockie and his Trumpet
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