It is amazing how I can get drawn into people I have never met. One of the strongest influences in my life is Diana Rigg, both from her role in the Avengers tv series and from being a strong and creative being who has led a life courageously distant from the norm. She's one of a kind and definitely a pioneer. She's been with me ever since I saw my first Avengers telecast in 1966!
So it is interesting that this year I've bumped into someone else I've never met. It started when I decided to do the video "Secret Agent Gal" for youtube. I had never done a vocal before. In fact my only real training, other than singing in the shower, was chanting ancient Shinto rites of purification in ancient Japanese. Still, I'd always loved the Johnny Rivers song, and by altering a few of the words, thought I could turn it into something for some fun footage of Diana Rigg. I found that for me a Johnny Rivers type delivery did not work for a Secret Agent "Gal". Finally I tried just whispering in the words into a microphone to the background music, and by accident achieved a sound that I thought was closer to what i wanted. It was much more laid-back, even understated. And I didn't at the time understand why this sound fit.
A couple of weeks after i had posted the video(which,by the way, is approaching 10,000 views) I happened to be at a Starbucks and was looking at cds they had on sale. One that got my attention was "Too Cool" featuring jazz trumpet and vocals by Chet Baker. Having played the trumpet in middle and high school, I was sort of grabbed by that. So I bought the cd, went to my car, and put it into the cd player with no expectations whatsoever. The first song on the cd was "Let's Get Lost". Imagine my surprise when it got to the vocal when it hit me that this was the "sound" I had been searching for. So I learned a couple of vocals, started doing them with a couple of friends. It was great fun. A bigger stretch was when in May I decided to give the trumpet another try. When I'd played earler it was with a faulty embrouchure, so I had to not only get back in practice, I had to completely re-learn how to play. So I would listen to Chet and to align to his flow.......
Chet was born in 1929 during the start of the great depression in Yale, Oklahoma. At a young age his family moved to Southern California. Coming from a musical family, he took the trumpet up about age 13 and pretty much taught himself how to play. Throughout his life he relied mainly on his ear and instinct for playing over any great understanding of musical theory. In the '50's he was one of the founders of the West Coast "cool" school of jazz. In his early twenties he was voted by Downbeat Magazine's readers as the top trumpet player over such luminaries as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong. His playing is marked by a deep lyricism. As much as he could play straight jazz, many of his most memorable songs are ballads such as "Time After Time" and "Tenderly". He came out with a vocal album"Chet Baker Sings". His vocal style was unique, soft, understated, almost androgynous. Unfortunately, his life was filled with drugs and turmoil. He died in 1988. It is ironic that he was 59 when he died and that is the same age that I discovered his music.
Just as Dame Diana and I share very strong astrological connections, so do Chet and I. His Pluto in Cancer conjuncts my Cancer moon. My Neptune in Libra conjucts his Libra moon.His Uranus in Aries is right on my Aries ascendent. He has both Venus and Mars conjuncting in Sagitarius. According to Andrea Mallis(www.virgoinservice.com) this can confer an androgyny that can produce a major star. When in this twenties he possessed matinee idol looks. Many in Hollywood thought he could become the next James Dean. While he never became that, he is still someone whose life has a captivating quality. Currently Josh Hartnet has been signed to play him in a biopic entitled "The Prince of Cool".
Lately, it has come to me that it is very possible that Chet and I were in a past life in early 19th century Japan(ironically the Nemuri Kyoshiro era). I feel we were both swordsmen. In fact the way Chet holds the trumpet is the way a samurai sword is gripped. I am including a video from youtube of "Let's Get Lost", the first Chet song I heard. Notice how some of his trumpet notes(especially in the second solo) are like sword cuts: