The Life

Chet Baker started playing professionally in the early 1950's working with the baritone saxophone player and arranger/composer Gerry Mulligan and then with pianist Russ Freeman. Baker was voted America's top trumpeter by Downbeat Magazine in 1955 ahead of Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown and helped to establish a West Coast style dominated by white musicians. The pressure of living up to this elevated status helped fuel Chet Baker's appetite for a potent mix of hash, heroin and cocaine. His drug taking influenced his professional playing career, destroyed three marriages and ultimately led to his early death in Amsterdam on May 13 1988.

Always short of money, Chet Baker is one of the most recorded, some would say over recorded Jazz artists in history and his discography includes albums with Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, and Paul Desmond. Chet Baker is also one of the most photographed Jazz artists due to the work of William Claxton and the subject of Bruce Weber's posthumous biopic, Let's Get Lost.

The Music

Thirty years ago (April 28 1988), just two weeks before his untimely death, Chet Baker played a final concert in Hanover. In this anniversary celebration of his life and music, we revisit four decades of Chet Baker playing with some of the finest musicians to be found either side of the Atlantic including on bass, Carson Smith and Ron Carter, on piano Russ Freeman, Hal Galper and Harold Danko and on drums, Shelly Manne, Larry Bunker and Steve Gadd.

We reference music from the Fifties (Deep in a Dream, The Trumpet Artistry of Chet Baker for Dick Bock, Pacific Records and Chet in Paris 1955 for the Barclay Label), the Sixties (Chet is Back, The Italian Sessions and The Most Important Jazz Album of 1964/65 including Tadd's Delight by Tadd Cameron), the Seventies (1974 Carnegie Hall Concert with Gerry Mulligan and She was Too Good for Me with arrangements by Don Sebesky) and the Eighties (Last Concert in Tokyo and the Stuttgart and Hanover concerts).

The Band

Geoff Varrall (trumpet), Caroline Cooper (piano), Peter Miles (drums) and Clive Brown (double bass), co-founders of the Retro Chet Quartet recapture the sound and spirit of four decades of US West Coast Jazz.Find out more about the band here:

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