Chet Baker :

‘You Can't Go Home Again’ 1977

(Chet Baker, trumpet; Paul Desmond, alto; Kenny Barron, piano, Ron Carter, bass; Tony Williams, drums; Don Sebesky, el piano)

Ian Carr: Is that Paul Desmond? And late Chet Baker? I like him in his old age because there's a depth of feeling there.There's another dimension in his older playing, a sureness of the notes, he's prepared not to play too many . He can play a lot, of course, but he's prepared to play fewer notes, rather like Miles Davis. All the notes sing with this incredible lyrical feeling, so that you feel the man is putting the whole of his being into the notes that he's playing at this particular moment. In a sense, all you can ask of any artist is that he puts all his being into it, whether it's in words or paints or music. I think Chet Baker had got rid of so much consciousness, because of the way he lived, that everything was focussed on this one thing.

His meaning of life was to play: whatever his love affairs, or his private life, his tragedies or his triumphs, the actual thing that gave him real meaning was the way he played. Herbie Hancock said that the interesting thing about Chet Baker is that he never learned to read music particularly well, if at all really, so his instinctive playing is absolutely fabulous. He's actually making music at this moment in time, not a note in sight, not even a note in his head in terms of written music, but coming straight from the heart through the mouth, to us.

Tom Callaghan: Despite the drugs? Or because of them?

IC: I think the drugs may have cut out some of his consciousness, which enabled him to focus so much, but there's a kind of wisdom of life in his later playing which may have come just from living, not from drugs. Maybe the fact that he was forced to concentrate on the notes that were coming immediately in front of him, the notes he was producing may have been due to a lack of consciousness. I like Chet Baker very much, early and late, he's a very nice musician who speaks to me.