Five Years Ago and 24 Years Ago
What I found was that Baker's playing and singing were virtually the same. He was not a high note specialist or someone who was flashy. The notes from his horn could be soft and yet burn right into your soul. And he could play incredibly fast if he wanted to, but it all whether fast or slow was always lyrical. So initially it was hard for me to make a sound, but from the beginning I could put on a cd of his and free form along with him. One of the reasons I quit years ago was that I would try to improvise and couldn't. But 40 years of aikido seemed to have opened me up to where I could begin to do that. And years ago I would try to put feeling into the playing and would over do it. Something had changed. So here I am 5 years later still playing.
It was 24 years ago today that Baker died. It seems he fell out of a second story apartment in Amsterdam, would not have died but that he hit his head on a telephone pole on the way down. Though he was in his 59th year his face was covered in blood and it was reported that a 30 year old trumpeter(they found his horn in his apartment) had died falling out of an apartment. Bruce Peterson when he was in Amsterdam shot these photos and e-mailed them to me. One is the hotel Baker stayed in and the other is a plaque now outside the hotel that commemorates his passing. Minor coincidences are that I started almost within a week of the anniversary of his death and that he died in his 59th year and in my 59th year I took up the trumpet once again.
This is a song Dennis and I recorded on Saturday. Nardis is a Miles Davis piece. Chet played a lot of Miles Davis pieces and apparently was very influenced by Davis album"Birth of the Cool". And in his autobiography "As Though I Had Wings" Baker admits to years later still listening quite frequently to that album. And though to some extent they may appear to sound similar, Davis was a graduate of the Juillard School of Music. Baker was totally self-taught. Davis went on to explore many different modes of expression. Baker stayed true to his inner sense of lyricism. He once said if something lacked "lyrical meaning", he wasn't interested. I hope you enjoy the piece: