My Funny Valentine: Chet Baker live in Italy!

February 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm (Asshole, drugs, jazz, Jim D, love, song, strange situations)

Baker made several memorable instrumental and vocal recordings of this number in the fifties. But this 1959 live version filmed in Italy, is fascinating for a number of reasons (one of which involves the pianist…). Baker, a junkie, was an asshole of a human being, but a wonderful crooner and a pretty good trumpet player. Play (or sing) this to your loved one today:

In a bit, in the comments, I’ll tell you about the pianist. Unless someone beats me to it.

8 Comments

  1. Faster Pussycat Miaow Miaow Miaow! said,

    This is better

  2. Jim Denham said,

    OK, no takers. Well, the pianist is Romano Mussolini, son of you-know-who.

    A jazz blog I’ve just copied-and-pasted from (and now cannot recall the name of) carries the following comment:

    There’s a story that the American trumpeter, singer, junkie, and all-around space cadet Chet Baker was on tour in Italy, and his Italian handlers arranged a jam session with Romano Mussolini. Baker was told, “Don’t mention his father.” And Chet says, “Who’s his father?” and they say, “Benito Mussolini.” And Chet says, “Who’s that?” And they say, “He was the fascist dictator of Italy during World War II. When he was overthrown, the Italians beat him, killed him, and hung his body up on display in the street. So you can see, Romano is a bit sensitive.”

    On being introduced, Chet Baker says to Romano, “Hey, I heard about your dad, man. What a drag.”

  3. Lawrence Allen Prazak said,

    The Chet Baker anecdote is absolutely fabulous! As a fan of many years I have never heard that one…seriously funny. As a coincidence, my jazz group is currently working up “Valentine”, and I am using Chet’s version as inspiration. The kid from Yale, Oklahoma, went out to LA and played (and sang), his ass off!! Thanks for the gem.

  4. Roger said,

    Wonderful – this was the Mussolini who married Sophia Loren’s sister and gave us the fascist politician Alessandra.

    The idea that Chet could live through the Second World War and do his military service in the ruins of postwar Berlin without ever hearing of Mussolini is also strangely cheering,

  5. Jim M. said,

    “The idea that Chet could live through the Second World War and do his military service in the ruins of postwar Berlin without ever hearing of Mussolini is also strangely cheering,”

    Just one of the many benefits of a profound heroin habit, I guess!

  6. Rosie said,

    “you make me smile with my heart” is sheer genius. “Heart” – the tritest word in a love song, given that wonderful twist.

  7. Maria Judge said,

    Dan Barrett sent me a story about the night he and Jake ran into Chet – or “Chetty” as Jake called him – in Paris, and a great exchange they had.

  8. Jim Denham said,

    C’mon Maria, you can’t just leave it at that. Give us the details, please! Or do we have to wait for the Jake book?

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