Chet Baker, Before the World Weighed Him Down

“In person, Chet Baker was quiet, and seemed rather shy. At least that’s what I felt when I covered one of his first recording sessions. His playing then was coming from somewhere inside of him, and his music stopped me short. I found it very hard to concentrate with the plaintive sound of his trumpet in my ear. Looking around the recording studio, it seemed to also touch everyone there. It was the only recording session that I’ve photographed where the other musicians applauded after a take. It was on My Funny Valentine.

As I was leaving I saw him sitting alone after the session was over. Most of the other musicians had left, and I had put away my cameras and was about to leave. The image of him sitting there like a lost child seemed to sum up my first impression about this talented young man from Oklahoma… alone within himself.

Chet’s life was one self-inflicted wound after another, and to see that haunted face in his later years was tragic. Here is the way I like to remember him, before the world weighed him down.”