Let's Get Lost. Photo: Little Bear Films

Let's Get Lost (1988)

"Chet, he never practiced at all. He could just play and he knew every song." - Jack Sheldon 

A time capsule of fresh, jazzy brilliance, Let's Get Lost is a documentary that all jazz fans must see.

Let's Let Lost tells the bittersweet story of West Coast jazz trumpet legend Chet Baker, an artist of astonishing talent. Filmed in beautiful black and white by controversial fashion photographer Bruce Weber, the movie cuts back and forth in time, contrasting Chet's youthful, clean-cut, handsome James Dean look with his wrinkled features of the drug-ravaged later years. The film is inspiring, astonishing, compelling, and heartbreaking.

Chet Baker's career as a jazz trumpeter and singer is fascinating. He rose to prominence as the horn player for Charlie Parker in the 1950s, then joined up with Gerry Mulligan and Russ Freeman before going solo. Baker rivaled Miles Davis at one juncture as the finest trumpeter of all time (as highlighted in the film Born To Be Blue). However, his career twisted out of control due to Baker's heroin addiction, arrests, and a brutal beating he suffered, knocking out all of his teeth.

Gorgeous photos of Chet's early days (from acclaimed photographer William Claxton) are intercut with interviews with Chet's various wives, children, and musician friends, telling a captivating story of one of America's most extraordinary musicians. We see a stunning hodge-podge of clips here: Chet from random Italian B-movies that he hastily made to help support his heroin habit; Chet partying at the Cannes Film Festival; Baker carousing on the beach in Santa Monica with pals, including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The music, the interviews, the B-movies, and the live footage are a lot to handle, but editor Angel Carrao cuts it together beautifully. It just flows. Chet's cool California jazz horn and sweet, one-of-a-kind voice are always in the background, tying things together. It's the perfect combination of sights and sounds, and it just simply works.

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Let's Get Lost is not only the definitive Chet Baker film, but it is also one of the best documentaries of a musician you will ever witness. For those unfamiliar with the music of Chet Baker, this is a fantastic introduction. For Chet Baker fans, this is pure magic. (A-)

Directed by Bruce Weber
Starring Chet Baker, William Claxton, Russ Freeman, Flea, Carol Baker, Ruth Young
Genre: Documentary

Photo Credit: Bruce Weber/Little Bear Films

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