Born into a musical family in Oklahoma in 1929, Chet Baker tried various instruments before settling on the trumpet. At the age of 22 he impressed Charlie Parker when he backed him at a club gig in Los Angeles. Soon after he joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet where he developed ‘My Funny Valentine’ as a signature tune. He became a star, topping Downbeat magazine’s poll for trumpeters, and his film star looks marked him out as a marketable commodity. But with the attention came temptation, and drugs ruled much of his life. He led his own groups and was recognised as a key member of the Cool Jazz school, recording prolifically as trumpeter and vocalist for Blue Note, Pacific Jazz, Riverside and Prestige in the 50s and 60s and smaller European labels during the 80s when his career revived before his untimely death in 1988
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