Jazz Music: Chet Parker

The history of Jazz Music generally began at around 1920s in New Orleans which came as a blending of the ragtime, blues, and civic brass (Burkholder, Peter & Donald Jay Grout, 15). Jazz music depends on improvisation as the main way in which the musicians express themselves. Therefore, the musicians are required to be more inventive for them to create music on the spot. Most of the artists of jazz achieve their mission by changing the melodies in a rhythmic manner or even embellishing the melody. Additionally, the rhythm of jazz is in most cases syncopated, therefore when accents occur on the off-beat so it may be polyrhythmic. The accents mostly happen in a multiple and contrasting rhythms at the same moment. The common style of Jazz then was hot jazz.

One of the greatest Jazz musicians is the Trumpeter Chet Parker. He was one of the main exponents of the West Coast school of the cool jazz. Parker had a restrained and an intimate style of play that attracted the attention of fans beyond jazz. He had a wonderful photogenic look and a talent singing voice. However, Chet Parker’s career was cut short by drug addiction. Originally, Baker was playing in Vido Musso’s band together with Stan Getz where in that coloration, they did a first ever recording where Baker featured called ‘Out of Nowhere.’ ‘Out of Nowhere’ song was in a tape of a jam session that was made on March 24th of 1952. Baker’s break then came quickly when in the spring of 1952, he was chosen in an audition where he was to play a series of the West Coast by Charlie Parker where he made his debut as a saxophonist.

After the summer, Baker started playing a band of Gerry Mulligan, which was only featuring baritone sax, bass, drums, and trumpets with no piano. The style of music with no piano attracted the attention of the fans during an occasion at the Haig nightclub and they recorded their newly formed Pacific Jazz Records. The summer recording began with the 10″ LP Gerry Mulligan Quartet that released his famous song ‘My funny Valentine’.

My Funny Valentine

There are a number of artists that made attempts to record the famous song of Rodgers and Hart’s, My Funny Valentine since its debut in 1937 (Holbrook et al, 9). However, a few have been recognized for their work and one of the crowned work on the song is Chet Baker’s performance on the first ever piano-less performance (Bartlett, Simon John, 8). Baker’s was selected and preserved by the Library of Congress. Baker’s work was also noticed and recognized when he first launched the tune to a national stage in 1953 (Holbrook et al, 11).

One would understand why baker and Mulligan Quartet were such formidable lead partners when listening to this recording of ‘My Funny Valentine.’ The level of the trumpet’s melancholy and a dirge-like soliloquy easily transforms to a contrapuntal talk with the Mulligan’s baritone sax. One could notice the presence of an intense darkness in their take and some sorts of real beauty in a reflex manner each musician shaped the dialogue. The intense of the melancholia that Baker brought to the piece provided a peak behind the veil of the cool and an early hint of anguish that described his life and artistry. Therefore, it clear that Baker was a real talent and that is why his recording of a tune that had been previously recorded by over 600 artists stood out above the rest and became the best.







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