Vol 3 Special

A Newsletter Dedicated To Chet Baker And His Music

USA Editor
Elizabeth Little

Copy Editor
Bert Whitford
European Editor
Gunthar Skiba

         THE DALLAS SESSION

            On the thirteenth of January in 1985 Chet Baker was in Dallas, Texas.  On that evening he sat in with an old friend of his, vibraphonist Fred Raulston, at Ratcliffe’s Jazba Club.  Raulston, was the music policy overseer for the club and on this particular Sunday he had his own quartet at the club along with singer, Martha Burks.
  Because Chet was there recording facilities were brought in for the club date.  Also a recording session was set up the next day at Omega audio recording studios in Dallas.
  The quartet included Raulston on vibes, Floyd Darling on piano, Kirby Stewart on bass and Paul Guerrero on drums.  The original issue was an LP on the Jazz Mark label, WOULD YOU BELIEVE with “The Fred Raulston quartet featuring Martha Burks with special guest Chet Baker”, Jazz Mark 103.  The LP included three numbers from the club session on side one: Taking a Chance On Love, April In Paris, and Georgia On My Mind.  Side two was from the studio session and included:  I Get a Kick Out of You, Would You Believe, Don’t Let me Be Lonely tonight and Bye, Bye Blackbird.  All seven tracks feature Martha Burks on vocals.  Five of the tracks also feature Chet on trumpet ;tracks five and six are sans Chet.

            According to Bill Craig, the recording engineer, Chet was high “and having a lot of trouble with his chops.”   Craig further commented, “I don’t remember a lot about my conversation with him (Chet), but I do recall asking him if he was doing anything with Stan Getz and his reply was, ‘No, I got tired of saying Mr. Getz.’”

            Apparently Chet was playing well enough because the tapes of the sessions were sold to an Italian record company which released three LPs (and CDs) on the IRD Records  label with Chet Baker listed as leader.  Each release has six tracks and range from 39 minutes to 45 minutes in length (there are no extra tracks on the CDs).  Obviously Chet was listed as leader on the IRD releases to better sell them in Europe.  The Italian releases are: MY FOOLISH HEART, MISTY and TIME AFTER TIME 

MY FOOLISH HEART  (IRD TDM 002-2) includes Girl Talk, My Foolish Heart, The Lady Is A Tramp, Solar, My Funny Valentine and But Not For Me.  Total time is 44:51.  The first and third tracks feature Martha Burks on vocals and Funny Valentine is one of the few instrumental tracks featuring Chet Baker I’ve ever heard.    

MISTY (IRD TDM 003-2) includes when I Gall In Love, There Will Never Be Another You, Misty, Mr. B, I Love My Wife and Time After Time.  Total time 39:25.  The first two tracks feature Chet on vocals and three and six feature Martha on vocals.  Mr. B is credited to Billy Eckstine but was in fact written by Hal Galper and refers to Mr. Baker, not Mr. Billy Eckstine.  I Love My Wife is credited to Chet but is probably a “head” as I’ve never heard of the tune before.

   TIME AFTER TIME (IRD  TDM 004-2) includes:  Like Someone In Love, Time After Time, The Lady Is A Tramp, Almost Like Being In Love, My Foolish Heart and Chet Swings.  Total time 39;12.  The first four tracks feature Burks on vocals and the last two are instrumentals.  CHET SWINGS  is actually the aforementioned Mr. B again.

  
Raulston’s group were very good and obviously had played together for awhile.  Paul Guerrero, the drummer, provides a steady beat and drives the group both musically as well as vocally.  Martha Burks is an excellent vocalist and it’s a shame she hasn’t been recorded more.

 The recording facilities were very good and the four releases were well mastered.  Chet had some problems but overall played very well.  Maybe he was high but

Chet never played bad when he was high, only when he was down.  There is some good music here, well worth having. 

WOULD YOU BELIEVE is out of print now but the MISTY and TIME AFTER TIME CDs are available at $15.95 each plus postage from:JAZZ MARKP. O. Box 943 El Dorado, Arkansas 71731-0943 

            In Europe contact:

R. D. International Records Distribution via G. B. de La Salle 420132 Milano Italy

 

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   THE YOUNG CHET AND GRAND GUY CLAX
by Mike Zwerin                                           International Herald Tribune

Paris – This oddly heroic smack-soaked laid-back 1950’s West Coast jazz and its cool ‘60’s European equivalent that I am listening to evokes memories of the bad old days when Woody Herman went on tour with something like 12 junkies in a 16 piece band and the bus stopped for co-deine cough syrup at every second drug-store along the way.

            The story starts in the summer of 1952 when Charlie Parker played the Tiffany Club in Hollywood and auditioned trumpeters to fill Dizzy’s and Miles’ chairs.  There were good ones in L. A., like Howard McGhee and the Candoli Brothers but Bird chose the unknown 23-year-old Chet Baker, just released from the army, who joined him in the front line of a quintet that toured the West for several months.  Chet’s reputation never totally recovered from his immediate acclaim as a “great white hope.”

            Gitanes-Jazz has just reissued “Young Chet” as a double CD box, his early re-recordings as a leader.  He sings and plays “Born to Be Blue,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Goodbye”. . . to die.  At the same time I am looking at the photos in William Claxton’s new collection of the same name, published by Schrimer/Mosel, covering Baker’s first five professional years.  Claxton started what would become a long and distinguished career shooting black-and –white in natural light in the Tiffany during Bird’s run there.  He became friendly with Chet, a friendship that ended when Chet began to shoot in his own fashion.

            Regarding these images is, you should excuse the expression, a sobering experience.  See how Chet went in five years from a beautiful, healthy, innocent, combination surfer/James Dean type to the hollow-cheeked nodding-out addict he was to remain for the rest of his life.

            Claxton, who was in town last week to promote his book, tells how Chet Baker taught him the meaning of photogenic:  “After the first night at the Tiffany, I developed the film at home.  I saw this fantastic face coming out behind Bird in the tray.  I hadn’t thought much about the way Chet looked before.  He reminded me of a young prizefighter, a strange combination of pretty boy and tough.  Later I realized that beautiful women do not always photograph well, while an ordinary looking girl can be striking on film.”

            Along with Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, Claxton’s wife, Peggy Moffitt, had been a star model in “Swinging London,” when Brian Jones would shout “Hey Jimi” to Hendrix from his Rolls-Royce, both of them wearing their hippest gear, on the King’s Road on Saturday afternoon.  Dead musicians, all dead now (including most of the Herman 12, even poor clean IRS-pursued Woody).  We listen to music made by dead people.  Enough of that!

            Claxton hooked into well-paid fashion photography and went on to shoot por-traits of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Warren Beatty for Life magazine, direct commercials for TWA and United Airlines and afternoon TV soaps for Paramount Pictures.  Now he has come back to jazz, which, at the end of the night, he feels is one of life’s few endeavors where most people try to refrain from selling out.  Photography is “jazz for the eye,” he says.  First he looks for idiosyncrasies, the way you hold your hand, your horn.  He studies, absorbs, learns, and then wings it, improvising to freeze the moment.  Like jazz.

            He recalls the Tiffany Club:  “On closing night, I found myself with Bird and Chet and four friends of mine on the sidewalk at 4 A.M.  My friends were all fans of Bird, we could all scat-sing his solos. I was going to UCLA.  Bird said, ‘Let’s get something to eat.’  He was clean, fat and healthy then.  Chet went off somewhere with a pretty blonde. Chet always smiled sweetly at you and then did exactly what he wanted to do.  He was selfish in the way children are selfish.  “We couldn’t find a restaurant open at that hour so I invited Bird to my parents’ house in Pasadena – they were out of town. We all drove up there.  I made him breakfast.  We spent the weekend.  My four friends, Bird and I.  We cooked for him, went swimming nude in the pool.  He was like a Buddha.  We sat at his feet and listened to him tell stories.  Old, wonderful stories.  He was a very colorful, bright man.  We laid around and smoked some grass, ate, listened to music and had fun.

            During the weekend, Claxton asked Bird why he hired Chet.  “He plays pure and simple,” Parker replied.  “I like that.  That little white cat reminds me of those Bix Beiderbecke records my mother used to play.” 

            Claxton makes a point of this:  “He told us never to take hard drugs.  He said too many musicians were imitating his bad habits.  It was wrong. He told everybody that, including Chet.  They didn’t listen, most of them are dead.”

            Bird left Sunday night and Monday Claxton had to go back to class at UCLA.  When his parents returned, he told his mother:  “Guess who was our houseguest this weekend.  Charlie Parker, the greatest musician alive.”  His mother smiled and replied:  “Did you give him something to eat?”  His father, on the other hand, frowned:  “Isn’t he a Negro?  My goodness, what will the neighbors think?”

            “It wasn’t like now then,” Claxton looks embarrassed. 
We were just a normal nice upper-middle-class family.”  In any case the values he inherited almost led to his downfall.  When he and Peggy had a baby boy after 12 years of marriage, he “couldn’t stand directing dumb TV shows any more.  It was dreadful.  I guess it was a kind of nervous breakdown.  I just stayed home and played with my infant son for a couple of years.  We had some money.”

            It turned into a case of down and out in Beverly Hills.  He lost one of his two cars, some property, had to take his son out of private school.  When he tried to get back into the flow he found that everybody he knew was somewhere else and the new people said “William who?”

            Then the Twelvetrees Press published the photo album, “Jazz, William Claxton,” which includes an essay by Terry Southern called “Grand Guy Clax” (he is basketball-tall), and won some prizes.  Jazz was also coming back.  People began collecting photographs as a legitimate art form.  And they’re asking him to make TV commercials again.

            He ends his album with a short essay on his subject’s androgyny:  “I often heard men say Chet was too effete.  Men would either hate or love him.  It always seemed to me that men who were worried about their sexuality couldn’t  stand Chet Baker.  Men who were assured of themselves loved his sensitive side.  And all the time it was just an artist pouring his heart out.”

 

(Chet’s Choice would like to express its appreciation to Mike Zwerin and the International Herald Tribune for allowing us to reprint this article of 3 November, 1993.