The Artistry of… Chet Baker

On a sunny, warm, spring day, if you take in a deep breath as you walk a street block lined with lilac bushes and newly bloomed cherry blossoms and magnolia globes, the rush of the fragrances is like no other. It is encircling and immediately inspiring. It’s as beautiful or maybe even more beautiful than the flowers themselves. It is hard to know what you may have been aware of first.

The sensation and the effect is short-lived — which is very much a spring thing, ending after a short period of time when all that announces spring gives way to the grandeur of summer. Short-lived, brilliant beauty.

Chet Baker’s artistry is kind of like that street block.

Short-lived brilliance, sometimes turbulent, sometimes serene, like one season escaping the grip of another. Unmistakable in charm and grace. Bittersweet in its seemingly fleeting period of total, encircling inspiration.

No song sung or tune played sounds as sweetly honest or intended, as genuine or in a moment as one he played or sang. Then, like the spring, it is gone. A momentary rush of beauty remembered, just like love.

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.