Baker was born in Oklahoma in 1929 – the ultimate tragic figure, the poster boy for self destruction, he made Keith Richards look like Julie Andrews. Addicted to heroin from the mid fifties, in and out of jail, deported, beaten up, his inspiration and pain are here in this incredible clip (please do not let the quality distract you).
His voice was soaked in angel’s tears, mellifluent and with perfect intonation, effortless, expressive with absolute control and that’s before we even address his trumpet playing – and the sunglasses. A total disaster as a person, a miracle as a singer and a player.
He died falling from a balcony at an Amsterdam hotel in sight of central station in 1988, he was 58 years old. I went and stood in the spot where he fell and closed my eyes and remembered him, this giant of emotion, this uncontrollable creature of the night, this connection to beauty and darkness.
There’s not a lot of info on Jimmy Pratt and Glauco Masetti without some dedicated research but Franco Cerri was known as ‘The best guitarist in Italy’. Romano Mussolini was actually Mussolini’s fourth son, (married to Sofia Loren’s sister) but thankfully not involved in politics. Lars Gullin was a Swedish tragedy like Chet Baker, addicted to methadone, he died of a heart attack in 1976 aged 48.
Chet Baker – Voice, Trumpet, Lars Gullin – Bass, Glauco Masetti – Sax, Romano Mussolini – Piano, Franco Cerri – Guitar, Jimmy Pratt – Drums