Friday Night Jazz: Chet Baker II

I was searching out some of my favorite Jazz artists on YouTube, when I randomly stumbled across this video of Chet Baker. For those of you unfamiliar with Baker, he was a terrific Trumpet player who was later "discovered" as a wistful blues singer, specializing in ballads and love songs.

Chet Baker’s vocal style is unmistakably unique — my favorite
description of his his voice is "at times, it seems like he’s
hanging onto the melody by his fingernails."
He seems at times half a tone off where you might expect him to be.

There is a lovely
melancholy, a gentle beauty, to the way he wraps his voice around a
song. The soft, simple sentiment embodied in his lyrical approach to ballads
can turn any song into a brooding lament.

There’s quite a few other videos at . . .


Either of these two CDs are good places to start exploring Baker’s works:

My Funny Valentine

"His vocals were absolutely distinctive, sung in a high-pitched, even
fragile voice seemingly drained of emotion and yet possessing an
inherent charm, a detachment that might be both the antithesis of style
and its definition, whether it’s heard as sensitivity or indifference.
The singing is a double of his trumpet playing here, spare and barely
present but achieving much through nuance and suggestion. Pianist Russ
Freeman is an almost constant partner, supplying deft chords and
harmonic daring, amplifying Baker’s ideas. Their empathy is especially
evident in the beautiful instrumental "Moon Love," but it’s just as
significant on signature Baker songs such as "My Funny Valentine,"
"Let’s Get Lost," and "Like Someone in Love." 
–Stuart Broomer


The Best of Chet Baker Sings

New videos after the jump

Wish I Knew

I’ve Never Been In Love Before

Old Devil Moon

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Roger Nusbaum commented on May 30

    Don’t know his stuff but so help me he looks like John from Cincinnati.

  2. B.B. commented on May 31


    Lets spice things up a bit. I had a great week, drinking champagne right now(common for me, cant help it, never got into beer), but listening to ‘Staind’, ‘Outside’. now thats music. Come on BR, Jazz is cool once in awhile, but we need some rock.

  3. whosonfirst commented on May 31

    If Chet Baker hadn’t been a famous musician I don’t think you’d have ever heard his vocals. Michael Jordan thought he was a baseball player. Somewhere, Chet Baker got the idea he could sing.

    If I could play basketball like Jordan or trumpet like Baker I think I’d be satisfied with that.

  4. Howard Veit commented on May 31

    I too am a long time Chet Baker fan. I have lots of friends in various parts of the music biz (some trumpet players) and they are unanimous in their contempt for his playing. It’s very possible that with the passage of time their opinions may change as did the opinion Winton Marsalis had of Louis Armstrong ten or so years after Armstrong died. Baker was so obviously a drug addict who played while stoned that I think many write him off without listening to him. He certainly marched to a different drummer. And what a drummer

  5. lark commented on May 31

    Big junkie, that Chet. Somehow he was still sexy even after he lost his teeth.

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