|Chet Baker had a long history with Europe, which varied between mutual
admiration and understanding and mere tolerance. The Old Continent
provided the stage for a number of the tragic events in Chet’s life. It was
in Paris 1955, during his first European tour that his pianist Dick Twardzik
died of a heroin overdose in the hotel he shared with Chet. Drugs were
also the reason for the trumpeter’s imprisonment in Italy. Finally, Baker
would die unexpectedly in Amsterdam in 1988, after falling from the
window of his hotel room.
By the time the performance presented here was filmed, Baker was having
a good time with European audiences, who afforded him the respect and
status of living legend. As he told Les Tomkins in 1979: “I came over to
Europe in ‘59, and stayed till ‘64. And out of the last three years I’ve spent
two of them in Europe –a lot in Italy, and in France, Belgium, Holland.
Just recently now, I’m able to go back to Germany and play, and that’s
opened up a large area for me –that’s a country with a lot of large cities.
So it’s working out nice; people have been coming out to see me, business
has been very good, in concerts and the clubs. It’s a good feeling to know
that people do remember you, and will support you. Because nowadays,
you know, it’s hard to get people out –to get ‘em away from the TV sets.
Many people prefer just to stay home and listen to their records; they
don’t go out to the clubs or to the concerts.”
This set was filmed on February 29, 1980 (yes, it was a leap year!)
at the Paris Jazz spot “Le Dreher” in the Rue Saint-Denis No.1. It
was a small cellar bar that hosted Chet Baker several times during
his European tours. He used to play there for several evenings in
a row. Baker’s concerts during his later years often depended upon
his constantly varying health. When Chet took the stage in good
shape, he became the poet of still tones clinging next to silence
telling the blues of his life with subdued feelings. Then he was
unique and unsurpassable. On this evening at “Le Dreher” Chet
felt well, and he gave the pieces that he played so often the unique
shape of irrevocable moments fanned by his trumpet (he also sings
a bit on “Just Friends”, but sadly he was mostly off-mike). Baker
would be extensively recorded at Le Dreher in June of the same
year, mostly with an entirely different personnel (only Ricardo Del
Fra was on both gigs). Those dates appeared on LP and CD. This
is the first time, however, that this leap year performance appears
complete on DVD.
61 MINUTES - ZONE 0 - WORLDWIDE PLAY - ALL REAGIONS