At SXSW, Ethan Hawke and His 5 Favorite Jazz Recordings
By MEKADO MURPHY
AUSTIN, Tex. — In “Born to Be Blue,” Ethan Hawke plays the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker at a transitional period in his life. The film zeros in on a moment in the 1960s when Baker was attempting a comeback amid personal turmoil.
“I think that there’s this iconography of Chet Baker that personifies cool,” Mr. Hawke said in an interview here at the South by Southwest film festival. “And what I see under it is insecurity. I wanted to get at that.”
Reflecting on the role and his interest in jazz in general, Mr. Hawke shared five of his favorite recordings. They include work by Baker, of course, but also a movie soundtrack and music from Miles Davis, Nina Simone and the pianist Hampton Hawes.
1. Chet Baker, “Chet in Paris”
I think this is his best album. It marks a great moment in his relationship with Dick Twardzik. Dick was really brilliant and encouraging Chet to move away from revising old standards, pushing him to do original music, with great results. It’s really one of my favorites.
It’s lesser-known than “Sketches of Spain.” But my mom had it, and when I was discovering jazz I stole it from her and took it to my own apartment. I thought it was famous because my mom had it and she’s not some hero of music legends. But it turns out it was kind of obscure. I listened to it over and over again.
I love her so much, and her depth of knowledge about music. I’m a big Bob Dylan fan and she does the best Dylan covers, like “Just Like a Woman” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” She can make any genre of music her own.
People asked me about the books I read to prepare for playing Chet Baker. Hampton Hawes’s memoir “Raise Up Off Me” is just brilliant. It’s about jazz life and his work with other musicians. It was an inspiration.
Branford Marsalis and his playing of the piece “Mo’ Better Blues” is one of my favorite songs. There isn’t a playlist or a mixtape I made for a friend in the last 20 years that I didn’t put that song on it.
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