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Synopsis

From his emergence in the 1950s as an uncannily beautiful young Oklahoman who became the prince of “cool” jazz seemingly overnight to his violent, drug-related death in Amsterdam in 1988, Chet Baker lived a life that has become an American myth. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and previously untapped sources, this first major biography of one of the most romanticized icons in jazz gives a thrilling account of the trumpeter’s dark journey. Author James Gavin delves deeply into Baker’s tormented childhood, the origins of his melancholic trumpet playing, and even reveals the long-unsolved riddle of Baker’s demise. Baker’s otherworldly personal aura struck a note of menace and mystery that catapulted him to fame in the staid 1950s but as time wore on, his romance with drugs became highly publicized. Gavin narrates the harrowing spiral of dependency down which Baker tumbled and illustrates how those who dared to get close were dragged down with him. This is the portrait of a musician whose singular artistry and mystique has never lost the power to enchant and seduce.

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