Thoroughly enjoyed my recent visit to the Fairfax Studio at the Art Centre to hear Tim Draxl deliver music & words around the life of Chet Baker. I have two of Chet Baker’s recordings and loved the blend of trumpet & soft, melancholy singing before knowing anything about his life.
Born in 1930, Chet Baker lived most of his life after 25 out of the USA. He brushed shoulders with an amzing range of artists including Herb Albert, Marilyn Monroe, Count Basie and so many more. He was firstly a trumpeteer but sang enchantingly as well. He spent time in the army when just a teenager (a waste of space & very uncool) and even made a movie (too slow). His first trumpet was given to him by his father from a pawn shop when he was just a child. He taught himself to play for something to do in a small town in Ohklahoma. As a white jazz musician, Baker was feted by the greats of American jazz, based in LA during the 1950s, a golden age in jazz.
The show by Tim Draxl was absorbing with neat segues between Tim singing and narrating a simplified biography of Baker’s life. Draxl had the audience from about 10 bars into the first song ‘ My Funny Valentine’ and cleverly ended the main part of the performance with a taped version of Chet singing the same song. The effect was haunting and quite magical. Obviously Draxl has neither the demons nor the history of Baker, to my knowledge anyway! But the concept showcases both Tim & Chet’s talents in a very positive way. Supported by just a piano, double bass, drums & trumpet, the songs came to life through a voice full of feeling and technically excellent. I left appreciating the power of music to convey so many human emotions.