Jazz: Chet Baker Book Is Re-Issued

Greil Marcus writes: ‘James Gavin’s book about Chet Baker, the jazz singer and trumpeter who first gained fame in the early fifties and who, only a few years later — and for the rest of his life — was better known as a heroin addict as unregenerate as any in the history of the music, was first published in 2002, fourteen years after Baker’s death in Amsterdam, at fifty-eight, almost certainly by suicide; it has only now appeared in paperback. This long lag is hard to fathom. As evidenced most strikingly in the portraits of Baker in Geoff Dyer’s 1995 “But Beautiful” and Dave Hickey’s 1997 “Air Guitar,” and in the response to Bruce Weber’s 1988 documentary film “Let’s Get Lost,” released just after Baker’s death, and screened in a restored version at the Cannes film festival only three years ago, there has always been a Chet Baker cult. But more than that, “Deep in a Dream” — named for a particularly affecting, cloudlike Baker recording from 1959 — is not an ordinary biography, though there is nothing unusual about its form (from birth to death and aftermath) or style (direct and clear).’

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