Baker’s “Blue ‘n Boogie”

Seattle and I have got to stop meeting like this. I’m heading back across the Cascades for trumpeter Bobby Shew’s appearance tonight at Tula’s. Coincidentally, a message arrived yesterday evening from Mr. Shew. It was succinct: “Check it out,” followed by a link to this blistering 1981 Chet Baker version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Blue ‘n Boogie.” A master trumpeter’s recommendation of a trumpet performance is not to be ignored.

Check it out.

Some time ago, I heard a private recording of the Baker Backstreet gig, but I had no idea that it had been released on this album. The Fresh Sound website quotes Baker’s pal Artt Frank, the drummer, who recorded the music that night.

Chet confessed to me on several occasions that he had an uneasy feeling that each time he played could be his last. But whatever the reason, he was fantastic (spectacular!). I thought to myself, this has got to be a very special night. I’ve worked a lot of clubs with Chet over the years both Stateside and Europe, but this particular night seemed a whole lot different to me. Somehow Chet was really burning…Burnin’ at Backstreet!—Artt Frank

As it turned out, Chet had seven more years. He died in May of 1988

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  1. says

    Man, this is burnin’! Thanks so much for posting this, Doug. What a hot player Chet could be; but I knew that already. Let’s hope that others will realize it too.

  2. says

    Thanks so much for posting this Doug. I’m so glad you did because it will allow many of Chet’s fans around the world to hear him playing in the way he so much loved to play, ‘Burnin’. When he began to play, I laid out for a few bars trying to decide whether to use sticks or brushes….I quickly decided to use brushes in order to lay down a smooth track upon which Chet could ride….phrasing lyrically as only he could do at any tempo. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Chet and play his tapes, records and CD’s, especially all the ‘live’ club performances we did together over the years.

    Chet was by far the most lyrically melodic trumpet player of all time. Including all, barring none.

  3. Lucille Dolab says

    So grateful to you for featuring this blazing Blue ‘n’ Boogie track! What amazing synergy between Chet and Artt and the rest of the group! Wonderful that Chet is heard at his best in the latter part of his life, refuting
    the sad impression one gets from the Weber film!

  4. Mick Davis (Shropshire, England) says

    This is lovely indeed, yet I think my old and wax filled ears must be deceiving me because the timbre and resonance of Chet’s instrument here suggests a flugal horn? But I’ll be delighted to be corrected on this.

  5. Doug Stewart says

    Chet just had to play….he needed an audience to dig his message. You can yap on about his frailities as a human being…his addictions, his moral turpitude and bad life choices, but he just needed to play his horn.

    I have heard him on bad nights and good nights…..thank god I
    heard the guy…..he gave great joy to a minority of people
    Dig the Backstreet CD…….he does “Burn” for the eternal flameof improvised jazz.

  6. says

    Hi Doug! First time commenter, but long time follower of Rifftide (and your indispensable Desmond book).

    Regarding the Chet Baker… smoking! I believe there is a lot to be said for re-evaluating Baker’s late period, as it’s given short shrift by many critics in favor of his early fifties work.