Synopses & Reviews
The beloved yet infamous Chet Baker—trumpeter, crooner, junkie, and doomed James Dean-like icon of 1950s jazz—has always projected an air of mystery (and even more so, perhaps, in the years since his death in the late 1980s). In these recently uncovered diary-entries, the mystery fades as we find that Baker's pure trumpeting, aching vocals, and now-classic renditions of many jazz standards all belie the turmoil of a wretched private life governed by addiction and abandon.
Baker dominated the jazz scene of the 1950s, working closely with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, and Stan Kenton. By the Sixties, however, he found himself caught in an incessantly downward spiral of heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. In and out of jail, in and out of relationships, criss-crossing the Atlantic, looking for gigs in the States and in Europe, searching of some sort of redemption—such is the life we encounter firsthand in these pages.
This memoir is must-reading for all students of jazz history and modern American pop culture.
"Despite all the drama, each chapter is like a sketch done at the beach on a perfect, drowsy day."—The New Yorker
"Only a handful of autobiographies have truly represented the rigors of jazz life. Add to [this] short list As Though I Had Wings."—Los Angeles Times
"This is a sad, sweet book that reads like one of Baker's trumpet solos . . . His memories show the same eye for hedonistic detail that he had in his music."—The Seattle Times
"[This book] captures dead-on the trumpeter's legendary melancholy."—Independent Weekly
"An authentic expression of [Baker's] selfish apathy."—Charles Taylor, Salon
Told by the legendary trumpeter and singer himself, these memoirs launch wholeheartedly into the full-bodied and lush jazz-driven life that he led for more than 30 years.
About the Author
(1929-88) is one of the seminal trumpeters in jazz history. His distinctive, somewhat reticent style of playing, along with his mellow singing voice, helped establish West Coast "cool" jazz in the 1950s.