Chet Baker: Jazz Trumpeter, Vocalist

Chet Baker (1929-1988) was a jazz trumpeter and vocalist — search YouTube and listen to him singing “My Funny Valentine” — who was voted best trumpeter in the 1989 critics poll in Down Beat Magazine and inducted into the magazine’s Hall of Fame. Apparently, before his death he was voted Best Trumpeter two years in a row. Mr. Baker knew that Miles Davis, a true genius, was a better trumpeter than he was, and so he told him that he felt like writing him a letter of apology. Mr. Davis told him, “You got about 15 other letters to write before you get to me.” Mr. Baker could respond wittily to bad criticism when he chose to. Wynton Marsalis, who is technically superb, was critical of Mr. Baker, who was less technically accomplished but who had a distinctive and original approach to jazz. Mr. Baker responded to the criticism by saying, “If I could play like Wynton … I wouldn’t.”

For Further Information: Joe Queenan, “Born to Be Blue: Ethan Hawke on the fast life and mysterious death of Chet Baker.” Guardian. 20 July 2016 <>.

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