Chet Baker


1985 was another busy year for Chet his gigging schedule was still as mad as ever now travelling the length and breadth of the Continent with one of his tightest ever groups a trio with Belgians Jean-Louis Rassenfosse on Bass and the excellent Phillip Catherine on guitar. Catherine like Doug Raney brought out the very best in Chet challenging him all the time but whatever direction he pulled Chet in he kept up and Rassenfosse the big, tall bass player held it all together beautifully the three made some fine and beautiful music together but of course Chet would eventually find a way to sabotage things.

Chet was back with his on/off partner Diane Vavra and decided just before leaving to play a concert on the island of Corsica that the three musicians should all stay on the island for a short holiday, Catherine as well as being a brilliant guitarist also seemed to be the only sensible one present as he left Corsica directly after the gig.

Chet, Jean-Louis and their respective partners booked adjoining rooms in a nice little hotel on the first night high on barbiturates and brandy Chet attacked Diane leaving her face bruised. Jean-Louis took her into his room and refused Chet entry Chet insulted them all and left them on Corsica with all of the hotel bills.

In February of 1985 Chet went into Sound Track studio in Copenhagen for Nils Winther’s SteepleChase labe with Canadian pianist Paul Bley they where an odd pairing but together they produced the sublimely beautiful record ‘Diane’.

The title track Diane (I’m in Heaven When I Look Into Your Eyes) was written in 1927 by Erno Rapee Chet dedicated it and the record to Diane Vuvra the woman he would a few months later leave bruised in Corsica with an unpaid hotel bill. His and Bley’s version of Diane is top draw and the record as a whole one of Chet’s best performances ever in my opinion.

There are versions of Berlin’s ‘How Deep Is The Ocean’ and Cole Porter’s ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ either side of a lovely pared down version of Sonny Rollins ‘Pent Up House’ and also a rarity a Chet Baker composition of real note ’ Skidadidlin’ that fits perfectly with the rest of the record which then closes with my favourite ever version of ‘Little Girl Blue’.

Paul Bley said of the record,

“It’s great to play in a car after midnight in a city you don’t live in”.

Which sums it up perfectly and if you only ever by one Chet Baker record it should be this.


Chet Baker & Paul Bley - Diane, SteepleChase Records (1985)

If I Should Lose You 7:16
You Go To My Head 7:03
How Deep Is The Ocean 5:17
Pent-Up House 3:55
Everytime We Say Goodbye 7:52
Diane 5:31
Skidadidlin’ 4:16
Little Girl Blue 5:27

Piano – Paul Bley
Trumpet – Chet Baker
Vocals – Chet Baker (tracks: A2)

Recorded at Sound Track Studios, Copenhagen, February 27, 1985. Digital recording.

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June 1985 was a busy month for Chet and his Trio kicking off back at Studio 44, Netherlands for Gerry Teekens Criss Cross Jazz label again recorded by the excellent Max Bolleman on an album titled Chet’s Choice by The Chet Baker Trio featuring Phillip Catherine.

The record revisits If I Should Lose You which was also the opening track for ‘Diane’ earlier in the year
It is played faster though on Chet’s Choice and although still excellent looses some of it’s appeal in. my opinion. The opposite is true with this version of ‘Love For Sale’ which Phillip Catherine absolutely nails this track is everything that was good about this Trio as is their version of How Deep is The Ocean they must have been incredible to watch in person.

Things speed up a little with versions of Horace Silver’s ‘Doodlin’ and Miles’ ‘Conception’ which Chet deals with perfectly the record closes with ‘Adriano’ a Phillip Catherine song that features Hank Van de Gejin on bass instead of Rassinfosse on bass. Another exceptionally good record and another example of how Chet responded to quality sidemen.


Chet Baker Trio ft Phillip Catherine - Chet’s Choice, Criss Cross Jazz (1985)


If I Should Lose You 4:37
Sad Walk 5:30
How Deep Is The Ocean 6:20
Doodlin’ 4:48
Conception 4:40
Love For Sale 9:08
Adriano 4:02

Bass – Hein Van De Geijn (tracks: B3), Jean-Louis-Rassinfosse (tracks: A1 to B2)
Guitar - Phillip Catherine
Trumpet - Chet Baker

Recorded June 25, 1985 Studio 44, Monster, Netherlands

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On June 30th 1985 at The Sonet Library Stockholm the Chet Baker Trio with long time ‘friend’, band member and fellow user Michel Graillier on piano in place of Phillip Catherine on guitar recorded Candy a TV Special that would also be released on CD & Vinyl by Sonet Records.

It was another exceptional performance by the band after which Chet sat at the piano with Stockholm resident and famous bassist Red Mitchell the two chatted about old times as Red played a new arrangement for Rodgers & Hart’s ‘My Romance’ he’d been working on Chet joined in for a while before putting down his trumpet saying that he was very tired, had a gig that night and an early morning flight to catch. Tired or not Chet was in fine form on ‘Candy’ another of my favourite Chet albums of the 80’s.


Chet Baker - Candy, Sonet Records (1985)


Love For Sale 9:50
Nardis 5:16
Candy 5:04
Bye, Bye Blackbird 7:47
Sad Walk 4:47
Tempus Fugit 4:20
Red’s Blues 4:12

Bass – Jean-Louis-Rassinfosse
Piano – Michel Graillier
Trumpet, Vocals – Chet Baker

Recorded in the Sonet library June 30th, 1985


In case you’ve never seen it here is the Candy TV special.

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Still in June but in Munster, Germany for the 7th Annual Jazz Festival the Trio of Baker, Rassinfosse & Catherine are back together the show was recorded and released on German label Enja Records as ‘Strollin’.

The recording has quite a happy and talkative Chet introducing songs and engaging with the audience and as good as it is it’s not this particular Trio’s greatest performance with yet another version of ‘Love for Sale’ it does though close with a rare version of ‘But Not For Me’ from
Chet Baker Sings.


Chet Baker - Strollin’, Enja Records (1985)


Strollin’ 9:10
Love For Sale 9:31
Leaving 15:19
But Not For Me 7:22

Bass - Jean-Louis Rassinfosse
Guitar - Phillip Catherine
Trumpet - Chet Baker

Recorded live at the 7th Jazz Festival Münster, West Germany, June 1985.
Festival produced by Asta University of Münster and jazzclub Münster.


Two weeks after playing at the Münster Jazz Festival in Germany Chet was in Milan for a concert with pianist Mike Melillo and a full orchestra the Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana at Arena Gigli, Porto Recanati a beautiful outdoor arena in the grounds of the Castello Svevo. Chet’s popularity in Italy was still such that he could play such a concert in front a few thousand fans under the banner of the provincial government.

The concert was recorded and released on Italian label Soul Note as a 5 track LP called ‘Symphonically’ it’s quite a strange disjointed affair in parts the two sides Chet and the orchestra are both very good but don’t always come together well although Chet and Mike Melilllo come together beautifully on ‘My Foolish Heart’ Chet’s vocal though isn’t at it’s best.

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Mike Melillo & Chet Baker - Symphonically, Soul Note (1986)


Laura 12:50
This Thing By Starlight 12:00
Yesterdays 8:48
My Foolish Heart 8:34
Dancing In The Dark 5:03

Double Bass – Massimo Moriconi
Drums – Giampaolo Ascolese
Engineer – Giancarlo Barigozzi
Liner Notes – Mike Hennessey
Mastered By – Gennaro Carone
Orchestra – Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana
Piano, Conductor – Mike Melillo
Producer – Giovanni Bonandrini
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded July 8, 1985 at Arena Gigli, Porto Recanati, under auspices of “Amministrazione della Provincia di Macerata”
Mixed April 8, 1986 at Barigozzi Studio, Milano

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September 1985 finds Chet at the Fendal Sound Studio in the lovely little Dutch town Loenen aan de Vecht, Utrecht recording the LP ‘Hazy Hugs’ with The Amstel Qctet on Limetree Records an excellent sounding record by an excellent group of musicians Chet himself is on fine form and blends perfectly into this set of songs written mostly by Hein Van De Gejin the bass player in the group.

The Horn player in the Octet Evert Hekkema put Chet up for long periods at his apartment in Amsterdam the young musician was in awe of Chet and allowed his home to be used by as his unofficial Dutch headquarters. The apartment was close to where Chet bought most of his drugs in Amsterdam and so it was perfect for him though not so perfect for the young Horn player and after more than two years of sharing Chet’s chaotic lifestyle when ever he was in town Hekkema asked Chet to hand his keys back and Chet’s thanks for more than two years free rent and hospitality was a curt ‘F*** you’.

Evert Hakkema recalls seeing Chet just a few weeks later at Bim Huis Jazz Club Chet embraced him and apologised and said that he’d have done the same thing in Hakeema’s position the two remained friends and every now and then Chet would use the apartment as somewhere to inject buy his drugs.

The Amstel Octet with Chet Baker - Hazy Hugs, Limetree Records (1985)


Silver Blues 5:03
Someday You’ll Leave Me 10:13
Deep Soul 7:32
Shifting Down 6:27
Tergiversation 6:18
Hazy Hugs 5:11

Alto Saxophone – Kees Van Lier
Baritone Saxophone – Jan Vennik
Cornet, Trumpet – Edu Ninck Blok
Double Bass – Hein Van De Geijn
Drums – John Engels
Horn – Evert Hekkema
Piano – Bert Van Den Brink
Tenor Saxophone – rick De Graaf
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded September, 22, 1985.
Fendal Sound Studio.


By November 1985 Chet had disbanded probably his best trio of this period first sacking Phillip Catherine after he failed to show up for a gig in Paris and soon afterwards had Wiim Wigt notify Jean-Louis Rassinfosse by telephone that his services where no longer required probably due to a combination of his friendship with fellow Belgian Catherine and the incident on Corsica when the bass player gave Diane Vavra refuge and refused Chet access to his ‘old lady’ Chet replaced him with Italian Ricardo Del Fra .

In that same month The Chet Baker Trio without either Rassinfosse or Del Fra played the Moonlight Club in the beautiful old hilltop town of Macerata on the Adriatic coast of Italy the band consisted again of the very talented Michel Graillier on piano and a stand in bass player the very able and well known on the Italian jazz scene Massimo Moriconi.

The gig was recorded and released on the brand new Italian Jazz label Philology three years later probably after Chet’s death in May 1988. As always was the case in Italy Chet got great reviews and though there are some beautiful passages it does remind you how good the previous Trio was.