Last week, I received a good deal of traffic from the Netherlands. I am not sure why. I had this album on the schedule for later in July but decided to move it up to pander to Hollanders as it has a connection to Amsterdam.
Chet Baker, born in Yale Oklahoma in 1929, was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. He found success in the 1950’s working with such stars as Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. After joining the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952, success came quickly. After Mulligan’s arrest on drug charges, Baker found his own group which continued successfully. In 1956, Chet Baker Sings was released. The album brought him increased notoriety but somewhat alienated traditional jazz fans. He would become the face of the West Coast Cool School of Jazz.
And then came the drugs. In the 60’s, he served more than a year in Italy on drug charges, was deported from West Germany and the UK, and served short time in US jail; for prescription fraud. Furthermore, he ruined his embouchure after getting severely beaten while attempting to buy drugs.
After working odd jobs while his mouth healed, Baker went to New York and became performing and recording again. He would achieve a resurgence of popularity in the 70’s and 80’s. However, from 1978 until his death, Baker would reside and almost exclusively play in Europe.
Which leads to his death and the Netherlands connection. Chet Baker was found dead in 1988 in the Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam. He had serious head wounds. Police found heroin and cocaine both in his room and in his body. As there were no signs of a struggle, they ruled the death an accident. The hotel has a plaque outside in Chet’s honor. I have 50+ pictures of public restrooms but no picture of this plaque which I have seen many times. Also, there is no plaque at Schipol where Solomon Burke died.
Unfortunately, this album is not among Baker’s best works. It was made as a quick response to the popularity of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The first Mariachi Brass band album , a Taste of Tequila, sold well enough to spawn this and a few others but in the end, it is really quite derivative. Baker plays both the trumpet and the flugelhorn on this album. I was real excited about “Bang Bang” and “These Boots were made for walking” but found them lacking any real punch.
I went with “On the Street Where You Live” as the sample.
Meh. The Tijuana Brass is better as is Chet Baker’s pure jazz. Check one of these out before you try this.