Recommendation: Artt Frank On Chet Baker

Artt Frank, Chet Baker: The Missing Years, A Memoir

Artt Frank Book CoverFrank’s personalized story is a valuable adjunct to James Gavin’s dark biography of Baker, Matthew Ruddick’s balanced bio and Jeroen de Valk’s exploration of the trumpeter’s music making. In an unpolished, conversational narrative, the drummer tells of his long friendship with the trumpeter and of sharing exhilarating high points and depressing low points in Baker’s life. In more than one sense, Frank was instrumental in Baker’s late-1960s comeback. He arranged for an engagement that tested whether Baker could still play following a brutal beating, and he was the drummer on the gig. His closeness to Baker gave Frank opportunities to observe him as a husband and father, the tribulations of his drug addiction and the fierce determination that underlay the fragmented pattern of Baker’s existence. Full disclosure: I wrote a blurb for the book jacket.

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  1. Terence Smith says

    The Chet Baker-Artt Frank collaborative album, “Burnin’ at Backstreet,” showcased two years ago on Rifftides, seems like a demonstration that they could burn through the greatest of material together, sets of music of the most inspired level. Much thanks to Artt Frank for some Euclidean type musical proofs. And, in advance, for this book.

  2. Wayne Tucker says

    I read Gavin’s well written, fairly detailed, but ultimately quite negative bio, and I have de Valk’s slight but valuable music-centered book. This sounds like a more balanced treatment of one of my all-time favorite trumpeters. I look forward to picking this up soon. Thanks for the tip.