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Chet Baker - The James Dean of Jazz
Chet Baker - The James Dean of Jazz
Chet Baker was the James Dean of Jazz. He loved pricey Italian sportscars, fast women and devoured drugs and excitement. But the most interesting aspect of Baker's personality is the contradiction that existed between his lifestyle and music - offstage he was a fireball, onstage he was a pussycat. He was a trumpet player who fell accidentally into singing.

Never formally trained in either instrument, he gave everything he could to both, and was stoically captivating. Chet Baker gained notoriety playing with the legendary bandleader and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan in around 1952. Before that he spent quite awhile in the U.S. army playing trumpet for Uncle Sam, much of it in San Francisco's Presidio army base. SF is also where Chet's career nearly ended after having his teeth knocked out in a drug deal gone bad. After falling into obscurity for many years, Chet came back in full swing during the Seventies to record a slew of records that did quite well. Unfortunately, due to his serious drug habit and physical deterioration, Chet's voice never came back quite like his trumpet playing did.


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