The Chet Baker Jazz Festival, to be held in Toronto on September 1-3, 2006, commemorates the legacy of Chet Baker and the newly formed Chet Baker Foundation. This FREE festival begins just before the Labour Day week-end at Yonge/Dundas Square with two special Concert Gala Fundraisers at the Music Hall on the Danforth. The festival will be an annual celebration which will spread to Europe in the next year.
The legendary Chet Baker was born in Oklahoma and died in Amsterdam, Holland in 1988. Few musicians have embodied the romantic, and ultimately tragic, jazz figure as totally as Chet Baker. A lyrical, self-taught improviser with a soft touch that seemed to kiss the notes as they flew by, Baker laid claim to Miles Davis' cool, laid-back approach early on and made it his, for life. With his wan, Hollywood good looks and bad-boy reputation, Baker became the poster boy for West Coast cool jazz. In a style that combined restraint with a certain nervous agitation and a strong dose of sentimentality, particularly on ballads, Baker captured the imagination not only of jazz lovers, but of a general public fascinated as much by his lifestyle as his music. Baker's high, whispered vocals, even more popular now than in his heyday, captured the same sleepy intimacy as his trumpet, particularly on such tunes as I Fall in Love Too Easily," and Everything Happens To Me."
The Chet Baker Jazz Festival features world-class artists such as Riccardo Del Fra, Tony Purrone, Randy Brecker, Harold Danko, Hilario Duran, Jane Bunnett, Guido Basso, Pat Labarbera, Kevin Turcotte, the Canada Pops Orchestra and many more... Jazz aficionados and lovers of good music will be sure to recognize and appreciate this world class talent.
The festival includes jazz workshops, dancing, film screenings, theatrical performances as well as great food/beverage vendors, a concessions area, and arts & crafts vendors.
There are two Concert Gala Fundraisers held at the Music Hall on September 1st and 3rd. The concept of the September 1st concert was inspired by Chet Baker's 'Last Great Concert' which took place in Funkhaus, Hannover, Germany. Chet Baker's band was backed by a 50 piece orchestra. This took place two weeks before his death in Amsterdam. This concert was beautifully recorded and is distributed by Enja records. Players such as Herb Geller, Harold Danko, Cameron Brown and Bob Mover who played with Chet Baker will be included in the fronting band. The September 3rd concert is a reflection of Chet's history with Latin, samba, bossa nova and Brazilian music. It will be a historic event as multiple Grammy Award-winner Randy Brecker and Juno recipients Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett all share the same stage for the first time. This will be one night you surely won't want to miss!
The Chet Baker Foundation is a non-profit organization centred in Toronto. Their mandate is to promote jazz music and jazz education whereby: we endeavor to educate and further the public's understanding and appreciation of the arts by providing performances of an artistic nature in public spaces and by providing seminars on topics relating to such performances, to produce the Chet Baker Jazz Festival annually for the purposes of educating and advancing the public's understanding and appreciation of performing arts and to educate through participation in such festivals, concerts and related workshops. Students enrolled in music programs will be available to sign up for seminars and competitions. Winners will also have an opportunity to perform on the main stage, receive scholarships, instruments and awards of distinction. They're currently working on student exchange programs with jazz institutes in Europe and NYC; thus providing a depth to their education and broadening their cultural scope; to pave a way for a career in the jazz industry. Chet Baker's widow Carol Baker is currently based in Toronto to take on the duties of the board's chair.