Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams....
September 11th, 2019
The artist Charles Ingham recently began a new series of photo-narratives devoted to jazz. His initial five pieces are published here....
August 8th, 2019
FOR CHET BAKER, TRUMPET PLAYER, AT AGE TWENTY FOUR I saw a picture of you, in 1954 on the today t.v. show with host dave garroway. you both looked so happy. dave held up his own trumpet too. your trumpet playing was being witnessed & … Continue reading ““For Chet Baker, Trumpet Player, at Age Twenty Four” — a poem by Alan Yount”...
December 7th, 2018
The late, great trumpeter Clark Terry once offered one of the most pointed, and humorous, comments about the perennial controversies in jazz over race and the perceived abilities of white versus black musicians…
He said, “My theory is that a note doesn’t give a...
August 16th, 2018
when you fell out of a window
… you made me give up on you.
(maybe I shouldn’t have).
when the movie about you
recently came out: all of us
believed ethan hawke
was you, in “born to
June 22nd, 2017
We like to immortalize talent in this culture, and in so doing, often decontextualize it, absolving it of complexity and stains. Media especially likes to make angels out of demons, and vice versa, stripping the truth out of images and ideas.
In the case of Chet Baker, William Claxton’s photographs helped especially to immortalize the singer and trumpeter, fixing him in time and space, freezing an idea of him as beautiful, ethereal, ideal.
Chet Baker is almost always remembered as the...
January 10th, 2016
Tumbling out of the second story window —
an accident, I swear — passing the first floor,
and, “You’ll never make it as a musician, Chet!”,
an endless string of notes plays by my ear,
one solo interlude strung out forever,
reaching, reaching, for the ultimate chord,
my sideman lost in a tinkle of piano keys,
the percussion of the vibraphone,
July 10th, 2015
New Short Fiction Award
Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.
Kenneth Levine of Wethersfield, Connecticut is the winner of the thirty-seventh Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on November 5, 2014.
I deplaned in Amsterdam to confront my father. In 1990, the year I was born, after the likes of Stan Getz and Freddie Hubbard dubbed him “the reincarnation of Chet Baker,” he quit his part-time job repairing cars in Gilbert, Iowa to go on a worldwide tour from which he never returned.
From the airport I boarded a train to Centraal Station, across from which the Prins Hendrik hotel is situated at the Northern end of Zeedijk Straat, and by early evening I had navigated through the designated lanes over which walkers, bicyclists, and motorists coursed to stand before a bronze tablet on the hotel’s brick front that featured a haggard Chet Baker playing the trumpet over an inscription that read: “Trumpet player and singer Chet Baker died here on May 13th, 1988. He will live on in his music for anyone...
November 5th, 2014
So many great songs to choose from for marking Valentine’s Day…The standard that most immediately comes to mind is an obvious choice, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “My Funny Valentine.” Written for their 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms, the piece was overshadowed on Broadway (and in the film version starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland) by “Where or When,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” and “The Lady is a Tramp,” and was not made relevant until Frank Sinatra’s recording of it in 1953. It was eventually recorded by more than 600 artists on countless albums, and became synonymous with Chet Baker, who recorded it over 100 times. Will Friedwald, author of Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs — an entertaining and essential work of popular music history — wrote that “the tune could be said to follow Baker from the grave, since it’s usually included in memorial tributes to him.”
Friedwald writes, “What makes the whole [song] so remarkable is the happy/sad nature of the lyric, brilliantly mirroring the major/minor nature of the music. It’s a love song, but far from those ‘I love you and everything’s rosy’ tunes so popular in the twenties (vis-a-vis Iriving Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies’). It’s vaguely optimistic, but it couldn’t...
February 14th, 2014
Excerpted from Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker by James Gavin
On August 12, the (Baker) quartet made its earliest known live appearance in a concert at LA’s Carlton Theater. But not everybody trusted Baker to stand on his own. With (Gerry) Mulligan in jail, John Bennett had paired Baker with Stan Getz, another baby-faced wunderkind whose feathery, cascading solos, even more detached than Baker’s, had made him a fellow prince of West Coast cool. Getz had won the 1952 tenor polls in Down Beat and Metronome by a landslide, while Baker still ranked low in the trumpet categories. The two addressed each other politely enough, but they loathed each other almost on sight, as their live duo recordings suggest:...
August 31st, 2004
In Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs, author Will Friedwald takes these legendary songs apart and puts them together again, with unprecedented detail and understanding. Each song’s history is explored — the circumstances under which it was written and first performed — and then its musical and lyric content....
August 2nd, 2002
That trumpeter Chet Baker was a sensitive musician whose sound is a cherished part of the jazz landscape is well known. That he led a hard life is also pretty well known, perhaps even to the most casual music fan. His 1988 death from a fall out an Amsterdam window only added to the sad mystery surrounding his persona.
What was not known by most of us is the haunting depth of Baker’s self-destructive life; that he was an arsonist, a thief, a second-story man, a drug addict, an abusive husband and lover, a philanderer, a liar…need we go on? We could, you know....
June 12th, 2002
Bill Moody’s background as a musician and his talents as a writer have made the Evan Horne Mysteries a favorite of jazz aficionados and crime-fiction fans alike. Investigating the death of Chet Baker, a major cult figure in the world of music, brings out the best in both the author and his pianist sleuth, Evan Horne. Looking for Chet Baker is his fifth Evan Horne mystery....
April 10th, 2002
Chet Baker was a star at 23 years old, winner of the Critics as well as Readers Poll in Down Beat. But much of his later life was shadowed by his drug use and problems with the law.
Chet Baker: His Life and Music gives an account of the famous trumpeter – famous as much for his tragic life as his beautiful music. In our interview, conducted via e-mail, author Jeroen de Valk talks about Baker, the life he led, the people he touched, and the legacy he left....
March 29th, 2001