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: (www.chetbakertribute.com). 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":