You can’t have romance without a crooner. And you can’t have romance and jazz without Chet Baker. So during Love Month at CBC Music, where we celebrate romance, nostalgia, crushes, intrigues and their less fun flip-side (breakups, rejections, awkwardness), it is a pleasure to stream Matt Dusk’s new album, released Feb. 12, 2013: My Funny Valentine, The Chet Baker Songbook.
STREAM Listen to Matt Dusk's My Funny Valentine, The Chet Baker Songbook, until Feb. 19, 2013
Now, that’s love on a grand scale, with an 80-piece orchestra, Grammy Award-winning Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and Juno Award winners Emilie-Claire Barlow and Canadian flugelhornist and trumpeter Guido Basso in the mix. And, naturally, Dusk himself, with that rich voice.
Dusk's voice isn't actually much like Baker's, which is part of what makes this tribute interesting. The song choices aren't all the most obvious either (you can see the full track listing here), something the Torontonian explains in the release accompanying the new album.
“I have my own voice. That’s why I called the record The Chet Baker Songbook; I didn’t necessarily want to record every single popular song he had done, but rather sing songs that would hopefully move people the way Chet moved me," he said. "I wanted to capture the intimacy in my voice the way Chet had done in countless recordings."
"Intimacy" is the perfect word. But Baker not only sang with a purity that could stop the most hardened cynic in his tracks — he was also such a tragic figure. He went from beautiful young man in the James Dean mould to ravaged middle-aged man with a serious drug habit. And he met a tragic end, found dead beneath the window of his hotel room in 1988, heroin and cocaine found in his hotel room and body.
Amazingly, wonderfully, Bruce Weber’s great documentary about Chet Baker, Let’s Get Lost, is online. If you’ve never seen it, now is your chance.
You might think, given both Baker's life story and unique voice, it would be daunting to take on the Baker songbook, and you'd be right. Here's what Dusk had to say about that.
"Here’s a guy who drank too much, did too many drugs, and still had the ability to sound amazing ... almost free. The most incredible thing about his singing was, in my opinion, it
was almost a means to an end. He performed like he didn’t care, and it was his nonchalance that actually made him great. As an artist, you’re always trying to think of what to do, but Chet took the approach of, ‘I’m just gonna do what I do.’ With these vocals, I had to take that approach. Not the drugs, of course, but his free, relaxed way of singing. That scared the crap out of me! It took me weeks just to mentally prepare.”
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on Feb 06, 2013