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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive story of the James Dean of jazz
Although the story of Chet Baker, one of the most distinctive and original jazz trumpeters of all time, has been told before, for instance in Baker's own memoir As Though I Had Wings, in Bruce Weber's documentary film Let's Get Lost, and in the biography by Jeroen de Valk, Deep In A Dream by James Gavin offers the most comprehensive study so far. The book works on a...
Published on 16 Jun 2002

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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chet lovers beware!
Though this book is essential reading for all Chet heads, you will need a strong stomach to swallow the portrait Mr.Gavin serves up. It's the opposite of the hagiographic line taken by his Dutch biographer, but in purporting to debunk the myth Gavin creates his own, that of a near-psychopathic soulless demon who just happened to have an inexplicable musical talent...
Published on 12 Aug 2002 by nick richards


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive story of the James Dean of jazz, 16 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Although the story of Chet Baker, one of the most distinctive and original jazz trumpeters of all time, has been told before, for instance in Baker's own memoir As Though I Had Wings, in Bruce Weber's documentary film Let's Get Lost, and in the biography by Jeroen de Valk, Deep In A Dream by James Gavin offers the most comprehensive study so far. The book works on a number of levels: not only is it an in-depth jazz biography, it is, possibly more importantly, a classic study of the gaping chasm between fantasy and reality, certainly regarding the early part of Baker's career. There is no doubt that Baker was an exceptional jazz musician, but when he became a star at the age of twenty three, the "James Dean of Jazz", this had more to do with his image than his musical ability. The image was largely a result of the work of West Coast photographer William Claxton, who had an epiphany as he watched Baker's face emerge in his photographic developing tray. Claxton felt that he had never known the meaning og the word "photogenic" until he photographed Baker, who in reality " ... Had one tooth missing, so he looked a little dopey ... but then you put him in front of a camera and he became a movie star." When people looked at Baker's pictures on the covers of his records, as author Gavin says, "They projected all kinds of fantasies onto him. They imagined a wounded child in need of mothering, a seductive devil luring them into trouble, a dark prophet of doom, or the ultimate soulful male." Baker's record producer found in a marketing survey that most of Baker's fans were girls who were interested in his wispy ballad singing, not his jazz playing.Baker fascinated his musician colleagues, who had to practise, because his talent emerged seemingly out of nowhere, with no work. In fact, Baker lacked the capacity to work at anything. This farmer's boy from Oklahoma sought only instant gratification and a way of blanking out anything he could not cope with, while showing no concern for anyone else. A serious heroin addict throughout his adult life, his overriding need was to acquire the money to pay for the next fix, and so his life was an endless round of gigs, mainly in Europe. Married three times, father of four children, involved in many relationships, Baker could be physically abusive to his partners, who , in a classically co-dependent way, found it difficult to extricate themselves from his hold over them. Interestingly, Gavin highlights the fact that throughout his life Baker also attracted a following of male hero-worshippers. In the last years of his life, Baker was earning around $300,000 a year and had recorded over 150 albums. Yet he never had a bank account or a permanent home, preferring to live in hotels or stay with friends. He died aged fifty eight in a fall from the window of an Amsterdam hotel. James Gavin has written a book that, while often depressing in terms of the facts of the narrative, compels the reader to keep turning the pages. It would be difficult to encounter a study of a creative personality showing a more extreme gulf between the beauty of the art and the squalor of the life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy of a West Coast cool jazzman, 16 July 2011
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adrian (leicestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Paperback)
In many ways this is a very sad book when you come to examine the tragic life of one of the most lyrical modern jazz trumpeters.
How someone who played such beautiful music could have such a mixed up life is hard to fathom. James Gavins's book is a no holds barred portrayal of a life full of initial promise which simply went to waste because of drug abuse.
It is not all about his addiction, which seemed to overshadow his life, however, as it has some lighter moments although Baker seemed doomed from a not-too-young age.
Well worth reading if you want an insight on this enigmatic character who started out as a very handsome young man and ended up a physical wreck, almost dead before he died you could say.
Those who would consider dabbling in drugs should read this book to see the harm drugs do, and the effects they have on the user, and which taint all those around them as well.
A sad life, well covered, and for those who, like me, love his music, it is a must read.
There are copious notes and also a 10 page discography, which lists his albums (but does not give song titles or personnel) at the end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spirit of Music, 2 Aug 2012
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Mr. T. J. Staffell (UK) - See all my reviews
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Once in a while, I come across a book (and I generally ONLY read biographies) which stir me up and send my thoughts off in new and ultimately productive directions. This is just such a book. This chronicle of Chet Baker's journey from the cradle to the grave is depressing, harrowing, evocative, funny, uplifting, thought provoking, and always intense. Read in conjunction with listening to his music, it becomes a kind of poem to the spirit of music. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but it won't be for everybody... suffice to say that despite the tragedy of his day to day existence, and his ultimate demise, this man drew, and continues to draw, a lot of people into the soulful musical universe that he created. and in doing so enriches all of our lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down!, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Paperback)
Thoroughly detailed, events described and ordered chronologically, the author used interviews with close friends and acquaintances. Possibly the closest you can get to the true character and experiences of Chet Baker
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars decline and fall, 1 April 2014
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deeply disturbing a book, one man's journey into a dark place, yet able to play such beautiful music, a good read
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chet lovers beware!, 12 Aug 2002
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nick richards (LONDON, ENGLAND United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Though this book is essential reading for all Chet heads, you will need a strong stomach to swallow the portrait Mr.Gavin serves up. It's the opposite of the hagiographic line taken by his Dutch biographer, but in purporting to debunk the myth Gavin creates his own, that of a near-psychopathic soulless demon who just happened to have an inexplicable musical talent. Glorying in all the most sordid deails, this hatchet job leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Gavin is a knowledgable guy and presumably was attrcted to Chet through the music and the image in the first place, so perhaps this is another case of "each man kills the thing he loves". Perhaps it's appropriate to quote Wilde since Chet did somewhat resemble that of Dorian Gray, with Claxton's photos remaining angelically youthful whilst on his own face were etched all the ravages of his life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Paperback)
Good read, great history of Jazz
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Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker
Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker by James Gavin (Paperback - 5 Jun 2003)
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