Versatile performer Tim Draxl returns to Melbourne with his one-man tribute Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey.
Draxl came to theatrical prominence as Rolf in The Sound of Music, starring Lisa McCune and John Waters. He has appeared in a large number of television series and movies in Australia and the USA, with a notable success being his leading role in the acclaimed Australian miniseries The Shark Net.
Conceived and written by Bryce Hallett and Tim Draxl, Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey intersperses fragments of Chet Baker's radiant career and self-destructive life amid his sparkling musical jewels – the "blue diamonds of jazz" – that spoke of destiny, heartache, despair and love.
In his late teens and early 20s, Baker looked like an angel and sang and played trumpet with astonishing assurance and ease. His music had the power to conjure beauty out of ruin while the fragility of his voice, at any tempo, was both heart-breaking and true. Chet Baker held a magical sway over people's souls.
From his emergence in the 1950s – when the good-looking young man from Oklahoma became an overnight sensation as a jazz trumpeter and singer on America's West Coast – until his drug-related death in Amsterdam in 1988, Chet Baker's life has become the stuff of legend. At once sexy and elusive, Baker was dubbed "the James Dean of Jazz" at the height of his success, his matinee idol looks and haunting sound seducing young and old alike in the '50s.
Chet Baker was the prototype of cool in the 20th century. When he interpreted the Rodgers & Hart song “My Funny Valentine” in 1952 he dramatically altered its character and mood. Suddenly a bright showtune from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms became a dark, lingering night of the soul, and ultimately a jazz standard. Freeway is packed with poignant ballads and classic songs, including “My Funny Valentine” and “There Will Never Be Another You”.
Fourteen of the songs in the show are featured on Tim Draxl's latest album My Funny Valentine, recorded at the James Morrison Studio in Sydney and released by Fanfare Records this month.
The hand-picked band for Freeway comprises two of the country's most accomplished jazz musicians and two fast-emerging young talents. The great jazz veteran Ray Alldridge brings his magical touch to the show as musical director and pianist. He is joined by rising trumpeter Eamon McNelis – the winner of the 2010 National Jazz Award – the dynamic drummer Ben Hendry and the incomparable Dave Ellis on bass.
Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey plays at Fairfax Studio, the Arts Centre Melbourne, 16 – 20 October 2012.