Personnel: Kevin Turcotte (trumpet); David Braid (piano); Terry Clarke (drums).
Audio Mixers: David Braid; Dixon Van Winkle.
Liner Note Author: Bob Bowman .
Recording information: Canterbury Studios, Toronto; Drive Shed, Toronto.
Photographer: Caitlin Cronenberg.
The soundtrack to the 2015 jazz biopic Born to Be Blue features music that evinces the sound of the film's main protagonist, the late trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker. Starring Ethan Hawke as Baker and directed by Robert Budreau, Born to Be Blue is a semi-fictitious retelling of Baker's life set during his career comeback in the 1960s. Blessed with movie star good looks, a warm, lyrical trumpet style, and an equally supple voice, Baker was a jazz star during the '50s. Influenced by the spare melodicism of trumpeter Miles Davis, Baker rose to fame and helped popularize the "cool" West Coast style of acoustic jazz. He was also a notorious heroin addict who spent much of his career touring in Europe as a kind of cult jazz legend; a status only magnified by his mysterious death after falling from a window in Amsterdam in 1988. Interestingly, whether due to rights issues or a creative choice, Budreau didn't use any actual Baker recordings on the soundtrack. Instead, he employed Canadian pianist David Braid and trumpeter Kevin Turcotte to record versions of songs strongly associated with Baker during his career. As these are jazz standards, and not songs composed by Baker, Braid and Turcotte are free to re-create Baker's recordings replete with what are essentially transcriptions of Baker's original solos. There are also a few new Braid compositions, as well as period-specific cuts from Odetta and Charles Mingus. Also intriguing are the two recordings featuring Hawke on vocals, including a surprisingly effective take on Baker's most identifiable recording, "My Funny Valentine." As Baker sang in a naturalistic, unaffected manner, Hawke's own delicate, softly wavering tone is a good fit. What he lacks of the jazz icon's warmth and rhythmic lilt, he makes up for by conjuring Baker's blithe, tragic romantic swoon. ~ Matt Collar