She Was Too Good To Me
The modern image of trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker is a hopelessly fractious one. Baker is, at once, a brilliant musical autodidact with a superb ear while, at the same time, a musician with a nonexistent grounding in musical theory. Like cornetist Bix Beiderbecke before him, Baker taught himself, thereby forging a personal sound identifiable across the space-time continuum. He left a 40-year aural testament, recorded during the most revolutionary period in jazz, that revealed a remarkable focus unshaken by those changes.
Baker's peccadilloes were also larger than life. Like Beiderbecke, Baker was hopelessly chemically-dependent, a life-long heroin addict whose addiction greatly contributed to his death as Beiderbecke's alcoholism did to his. Unlike Beiderbecke, Baker recorded copiously, particularity after his "comeback" in 1974, and then primarily to fund his addiction, so copiously that at least some of his recordings had to be good, if not exceptional, conforming to the adage that, "monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare."
Perhaps this sells Baker short; perhaps not. In the end, criticism of Baker's work must be cast in a post-modern isolation from the man himself and his story; but even that is not fair. Baker did not produce the music he did because of the confluence of his chaotic life, he did so in spite of it. There were glimmers of unimpaired sunshine in his discography and one of these occurred at the beginning of his "comeback" 1974, when he recorded She Was Too Good To Me for Creed Taylor's CTI Records.