Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Chet

I found out online that tomorrow, Dec. 23rd, is none other than Chet Baker Day in Tulsa Oklahoma.Of course that is his birthday(he was born Dec. 23, 1929 in Yale, Oklahoma). Apparently this date has been Chet Baker Day for the last few years. He was born at the start of the Great Depression. His family later moved to Southern California. His father bought him a trombone when he was 13, but at that age Chet was too small to do all the slide positions with that very large instrument. The trombone was soon exchanged for a trumpet, and a star was on his way. In the above photo, please notice the way Chet grips the trumpet with his left hand. It is the way a Japanese samurai blade is held. As mentioned in an earlier blog, I believe Chet was a swordsman in a Japanese past life.

For those of you who might want more information on his life and music, I recommend the following website: ( It has a very balanced look at his life. Apparently he had a very dark side, but that is probably true of many artists. His widow Carol mentions that he would give their last $20 to someone he felt needed it more. So he was obviously a very complex individual. When he was in his early twenties, his combination of looks, musical talent gave him a very high profile that went beyond being simply a jazz personality. To someone raised in Yale, Oklahoma, that was probably bit much to handle. He was profiled in Time Magazine in, I believe, 1953. My sense is that all that attention at an age when one is not sure who one is, by people who probably have their own agenda for you, is going to produce defensive mechanisms, one of which is to have a pronoounced dark side. One need look no further locally than our own Barry Bonds, another mega-talented and very complex individual.

I'm including one of my very favorite Chet pieces from youtube. It is almost equally vocal and instrumental. Both are fascinating. The selection is "Time After Time":

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

year end musings

We are defintely approaching year's end here at Aikido of San Jose. I would just like to share some thoughts with you all. I'll probably do at least another blog before the end of the year. First, we ran dan exams Saturday, December 1st. I would like to congratulate Frank Silvey, David Eves, and Paul Heffernan for each doing a good job and each taking a fine exam. The turn out for the training was good and spirited, with about 40 people on the mat. An unexpected surprise was a visit by Tom Okamoto, who is now living out of area. Tom was one of the original students when Aikido of San Jose opened in July of 1976. A number of us went out for a late lunch at Willow Street Woodfired Pizza in Willow Glen.

A couple of days before Marianne Messina, Peter Skilj, and I did a musical performance at the Peninsula Regent in San Mateo. This was set up by Maurice Gregoire, a long time member of the dojo who runs this vast Resident Care Facility for seniors. I had never, ever done anything like this in my whole life. We are working at getting the files for one of the numbers reduced so that it can be put online. When that is done I will attach it to a future blog.

For those of you who missed Frite nite 2007 and therefore the video screening of "The Human Tarantula" I found this clip of the film onling. I hope you enjoy it. Notice how almost otherworldly calm the character of Kyoshiro is in the opening: