Category: Baker Chet

Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Here is a great 1979 interview with Chet Baker from Les Tomkins and the JazzProfessional website. Chet talks about his reunion with Gerry Mulligan, his ear;ly years, and “Cool Jazz”. From the interview:

What originally caused you to take up the trumpet as your instrument?

My dad was a musician—he played guitar—and when I reached thirteen, his favourite musician was Jack Teagarden. So he brought home a trombone, but I was rather small for my age; I couldn’t make the positions, and the mouthpiece seemed so big. I messed around with it for a couple of weeks; then he took it away, and brought home a trumpet.

That seemed to be much more comfortable; I could get a sound—the smaller mouthpiece seemed to fit a lot better. I went to a little instrument training class for a year, and I played in the school marching band and the dance band.

When I was sixteen, I went in the army; for a year I played in an army band in Berlin, Germany. After discharge, I studied music at junior college, but at the end of a year–and–a–half I failed that—and I still play by ear. Although I can read, I don’t know the chords. I just hear them, you know, but if you ask me what the name of it is, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Click here to read Chet Baker with Les Tomkins in 1979

Chet Baker in 1978 from Jazz Podium

As most everybody else on the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy has slowed things down a bit here, but it looks like we’ll be back up and running soon! I hope anyone reading this (and everyone else!) affected by the storm is safe and getting back to normal.

In the meantime, here is a cool 1978 interview with Chet Baker from the magazine Jazz Podium, found reprinted on Ehsan Khoshbakht’s great blog Take the “A” Train. From the short interview, the trumpeter talks about the beginnings of his substance abuse problems in the wake of pianist Dick Twardzik’s death:

That’s when it happened, in 1957, when I went back to New York after he died. That ‘s when I started it and I kept that pretty strong for about 13 years and then a judge in Califonia was very kind to me. He could have given me five years like poor Art Pepper, who got sent twice to San Quentin or some crazy place like that, but the judge sent me to a sort of guidance-center where they test you, psychological and every way possible, to decide what to do with you. And when I went back to court with the results of the testing, he let me go. He put me back on the street again.

Click here to read Chet Baker in 1978 from Jazz Podium

— Peter Blasevick