Chet Baker's performance here is both fragile and passionate. Baker is joined by Van Morrison and reunited with Elvis Costello, with whom he recorded Shipbuilding
at Ronnie Scott's intimate English club. In interviews with Costello, the pain and happiness hidden between his wrinkled, tired face pour out like so many notes. Chet recalls winning a spot with Charlie Parker's band at the tender age of 22, but humbles himself by confessing to a lifelong addiction to drugs. But through it all, it seems one constant remained in his life, which always brought him back from the abyss and made his triumphs ever so much sweeter--the cool, sweaty, dark, and ethereal sounds of that West Coast "cool school" of jazz. 58 minutes.
1. Ellen David
2. Just Friends
3. Shifting Down
4. Send in the Clowns (with Van Morrison)
5. If I Should Lose You
6. My Ideal
7. Love for Sale
8. The Very Thought of You (with Elvis Costello)
9. You Don't Know What Love Is (with Elvis Costello)
10. I'm a Fool to Want You
In the early 1950s, trumpeter-vocalist Chet Baker was the "James Dean of jazz." Blessed with good looks and a lyrical and lean trumpet style, Baker arrived on the scene in California at the age of 22, when the great alto saxophonist Charlie Parker invited him to work in his band. Decades later, Baker got involved in drugs, had run-ins with the law, and became a poster boy for the image of the doped-out jazz fiend. This 1986 film, shot two years before Baker fell to his death from a hotel in Amsterdam, captures the painful pathos and poetry of his art in an intimate set at Ronnie Scott's famed jazz club in London. With a breathy, walking-on-eggshells trumpet tone similar to the sound of Miles Davis, and an achy, whisper-toned vocal style, the weathered and weary Baker delivers piercing takes on a number of standards and jazz classics, including "Just Friends," "My Ideal," and "Shifting Down." Punk rock icon Elvis Costello joins Baker on blue-embered renditions of "The Very Thought of You" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." Not to be outdone, Van Morrison of "Moondance
" fame duets with Baker on an intimate reading of "Send in the Clowns." In addition to the music, Costello interviews Baker about various and sundry aspects of his life: his boyhood in Oklahoma, his evolution as a jazz artist, and his nightmarish decent into drugs. Along with a detailed discography, career tree, and trivia track, this DVD gives us the best of this talented but tortured genius. --Eugene Holley Jr.