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date: 22 February 2020

Baker, Chet [Chesney Henry ]locked

  • J. Bradford Robinson

Extract

[Chesney Henry ]

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Yale, OK, Dec 23, 1929; d Amsterdam, May 13, 1988). American jazz trumpeter and singer. He first encountered jazz while playing in army bands, and by the time of his discharge in 1951 his distinctive, reticent style was fully developed. In 1952 he played briefly with Charlie Parker before beginning an important association with Gerry Mulligan in the latter’s celebrated ‘pianoless’ quartet. His performances with the group, particularly his ballad rendition of My Funny Valentine (1952, Fan.), brought him instant fame; his clear tone and subdued, lyrical manner – he rarely played louder than mezzo-forte and sometimes restricted his melodic span to less than an octave – immediately became hallmarks of West Coast cool jazz, and were widely imitated. After leaving Mulligan in 1953 Baker rejoined Parker briefly and then led his own groups. He continued to dominate domestic and international jazz opinion polls for the next few years. Thereafter, owing largely to the effects of drug addiction, his career became erratic, being interrupted at one point by a prison sentence in Italy for drug-related offences (...

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