[JPL] A Jazzman So Cool You Want Him Frozen at His Peak

Bob Rogers rwsfin at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 5 23:31:52 EDT 2007

I read this Rafferty thing in the Times.  I thought it so stunningly 
ignorant about the music that I just didn't even feel like arguing about it. 
  As Lorazo observer, where do you start?  Rafferty's free, of course, to 
say whatever he wants.  But if we were friends I would adivse him to just 
stick to writing about the movies.  But we aren't, so what the hell?  Still, 
"Let's Get Lost" is a surpassingly jive flick.  He certainly got that part 

I have a copy of the Paul Bley/Chet Baker duo on Steeplechase.  It's called 
Diane.  It's well worth whatever one must do to get it.

Best regards,

Bob Rogers
2816 Barmettler Street
Raleigh, NC 27607
email: rwsfin at hotmail.com
phone: (919) 413-4126

>From: Jae Sinnett <jaejazz at yahoo.com>
>Reply-To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
>To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
>Subject: Re: [JPL] A Jazzman So Cool You Want Him Frozen at His Peak
>Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 19:25:51 -0700 (PDT)
>This Week's JPL Sponsor: MC Promotion
>Mike Carlson: mcpro at earthlink.net -- (800) 729-7450
>Larzaro, on the "Last Great Concert" recording Chet recorded "Look For the 
>Silver Lining." The song IMO featured one of the most musical and perfectly 
>constructed trumpet solos I've heard. It's an amazing demonstration of 
>musical logic. Those that haven't heard it must check it out. It reminds me 
>of Keith Jarrett's solo on "In Love In Vain" from the 2nd "Standards" 
>release.....in its pacing and construction but not as expansive in 
>register. Amazing. The Evidence release I think you're referring to is 
>"Live In Tokyo" if I can remember correctly and that recording contains 
>"Stella By Starlight".....which again demonstrated Chet's extraordinary 
>ability in producing with minimal range. The Chet big band release also 
>showed a different side.....energetic and here he used more of the upper 
>register of the horn than I've ever heard him.
>   Jae Sinnett
>Lazaro Vega <wblv.wblu.fm at gmail.com> wrote:
>   This Week's JPL Sponsor: MC Promotion
>Mike Carlson: mcpro at earthlink.net -- (800) 729-7450
>Hey folks --
>Here's a letter from saxophonist Allen Lowe:
>to the editor:
>Terrence Rafferty's recent review of Bruce Weber's Chet Baker film
>Let's Get Lost shows a surprising ignorance of Baker's talent and late
>music, not to mention Baker's continued reputation. To say, as
>Rafferty does, that "his talent, though real, was thin. Unlike his
>rival Miles Davis, he persisted, with a stubbornness that suggests a
>fairly serious failure of imagination, in playing the cool style long
>past the point at which it had begun to sound mannered and even a
>little silly" is to show virtually no awareness of the development of
>Baker's music. Not only did his whole approach, from the dynamics of
>his performance to his musical attack, evolve in real if sometimes
>relatively subtle ways, but his reputation was/is intact among
>historians and fans of the music. I remember running into the great
>alto saxophonist Herb Geller in Germany, not long after Baker had
>died. Geller talked about a late concert at which "Chet could only
>play one octave, but it was unlike anybody else's octave." Chet
>Baker's sound and means of expression remained unique and wondrous to
>the end; his playing, from the 1960s on, took on a new and more
>aggressive character and a deeper, darker lyricism. Rafferty has
>apparently done everything except listen to the actual music.
>Allen Lowe
>And here's one from the former Chicago Sun Times writer Larry Kart:
>Mr. Rafferty says some inaccurate, foolish things in his piece about
>Chet Baker and the film "Let's Get Lost."
>1) "Chet Baker hadn't mattered for a while when Mr. Weber was filming
>him [inthe late 1980s].... He's practically forgotten now."
>Mattered to whom? Messed up though he was, Baker remained a
>significant draw in Europe until the end and arguably was a better
>trumpet player in his later years (when he was in decent physical
>shape, and sometimes when he was not -- the recorded evidence is
>considerable). As for "practically forgotten now," that is absurd.
>Baker recordings proliferate, and how could a "practically forgotten"
>figure be the subject of a fairly recent and successful (though IMO
>mostly in terms of favorable reviews) biography, to which Rafferty
>himself refers, James Gavin's "Deep In A Dream"?
>2) "Jazz history hasn't been kind to him; his talent, though real, was 
>Unlike his rival Miles Davis, he persisted, with a stubbornness that
>suggests a fairly serious failure of imagination, in playing the cool
>style long past the point at which it had begun to sound mannered and
>even a little silly."
>Where does one begin? Leaving aside the dubious/snotty opinions here,
>most jazz writers regard Baker's music more positively now than at any
>point in his life -- in part because some of them, as mentioned above,
>find the best of his later work to be more mature than his early work,
>in part because the notion of Baker as a necessarily inferior "rival"
>to Miles Davis is now seen as a relic both of a somewhat
>understandable but thoughtless Crow Jim-ism and of the assumption that
>Baker was little more than a pretty-boy jazz matinee idol. Musicians
>knew better. Miles was Miles, and Chet was Chet -- both quite
>individual figures, nor does the evidence suggests that Baker was
>heavily influenced by Davis.
>3) "Mr. Baker isn't so much the subject of this picture as its
>pretext: He's the front man for Mr. Weber's meditations on image
>making and its discontents. If you want the true story of Chet Baker,
>you'd do better to look up James Gavin's superb, harrowing 2002
>biography, 'Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker,' where you
>can also find, in the words of a pianist named Hal Galper, perhaps the
>most perceptive review of Mr. Weber's slippery movie. 'I thought it
>was great,' Mr. Galper says, 'because it was so jive. Everybody's
>lying, including Chet. You couldn't have wanted a more honest
>reflection of him.' That's 'Let's Get Lost,' to the life: the greatest
>jive movie, or maybe the jivest great movie, ever made."
>I agree that "Let's Get Lost" is a jive movie, and that Baker serves as a
>pretext for Bruce Weber's... I would say "manipulations" rather than
>"meditations." In fact, the best part of James Gavin's otherwise rather
>ill-informed "Deep In A Dream" is his takedown of Weber, whose
>character and milieu he seems to know and care (albeit in a hostile
>way) far more about than he does about the life, art, and times of
>Chet Baker. Rather than "Deep In A Dream," you'd do better to read
>Jeroen de Valk's "Chet Baker: His Life and Music" (Berkeley Hills
>Books). BTW, the by no means uncritical de Valk writes that the 2-CD
>set "Chet Baker in Tokyo" (Evidence), recorded in 1987, one year
>before Baker's death, is "his best recording ever." Baker also is in
>remarkable form on 2-CD set "The Last Concert" (Enja), which was
>recorded less than a month (!) before his death.
>End Quotes
>Both of these guys make valid points about this article.
>That Jeroen de Valk book gets closest to dealing with the music of
>Chet's later years, the Evidence recording he refers to is great, and
>he knows enough about Chet's methadone treatments that he can pin
>point the better performances from that prolific last period.
>There may have been a time when Baker was coming out of Miles, a
>certain period of Miles, in that he focused on the mid-range of the
>horn, and he chose a few tunes Miles recorded (but so did many jazz
>musicians and they still do -- Bye Bye Blackbird with a two beat feel,
>or On Green Dolphin Street, Four or any of a number of others) yet his
>personalization of that sound went deeper than mimicry.
>Recently John Proux hit the scene --he's from Grand Rapids and went to
>Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, among other places -- singing tunes from the
>Chet Baker song book and he does a good job with them. He's a fine
>young talent. Yet when I hear him sing those numbers it's like, where
>are the flat notes? Chet so imprinted his interpretations on those
>that to hear someone else sing them without the salt, that is,
>"correctly," is to take away some of the personality Baker seasoned
>them with. Proux sings his way because of who he is and does not want
>to sing them exactly the way Chet did -- which is cool.
>During his later period, too, Chet was a heavy influence on Meredith
>D'Ambrosio. He was far from forgotton or washed up. That's just flat
>out wrong.
>That Enja recording of "The Last Great Concert" includes a blistering
>version of George Shearing's "Conception" which Chet nails, just blows
>up, which confounds me no end as he played all that tricky bopmatism
>by EAR.
>There's also a recording on Soul Note from the later years with a
>regional, provicial symphony which (if memory serves) includes a
>deeply moving version of Laura.
>I have a soft spot for "Chet Baker Sings Again" on Timeless, a kind of
>Marlon Brando meets the jazz ballad which doesn't rate on too many
>lists but it was one of those recordings that was played a lot on the
>radio when it was new as it was released about the same time as a
>Mosaic box on Baker. And I don't think there's ever been a recording
>as slow as the duo album by Paul Bley and Baker on Steeplechase.
>There's a certain virtuosity in that, a kind of poetry, too.
>Then there are all those guitar/bass/trumpet recordings Baker made
>with Doug Raney and Nils-Henning Orsted Pederson (who doesn't exactly
>suck in the chops department, I mean, he made his name with Oscar
>Peterson so why in the world would he cotton up to a no playing junkie
>pain in the ass if there wasn't a heavy musical reason for doing
>so?...ok, money, but I believe NHOP had more invested in that music
>than just 'playing another B flat gig for the bread'). From one live
>appearance in 1979 there are three albums by that trio, and their
>studio date, "The Touch of Your Lips."
>There just wasn't enough reality underpinning this article in the New
>York Times. Baker's last period had some true high points for jazz.
>There are many musicians who found it so.
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