by Joe Boone
Chet Baker is one of the saddest figures in jazz history. As a result, his story and his music pulse with romanticism and pathos. Plagued by drug addiction, the once handsome Baker seemed bent to squander talent and looks on a cheaper, deadlier muse: heroin. After a promising rise in the early 1950s, the trumpeter fell on hard times. He did jail time and was beaten so badly that he lost his teeth, which are essential to forming notes on the trumpet. By the 1970s, Baker had stabilized a little and with the help of dentures embarked on a rebirth. During this period, he recorded for the small, Danish label Steeplechase.
Memphis jazz heavies Joe Restivo, Marc Franklin, and Sam Shoup will mine this period of Baker's career for a sort of tribute tonight at Le Chardonnay. Don't miss it. The music starts at 9:30.