Chet Baker's trumpet and vocal approach was immediately recognizable and striking, especially in his prime. He was known for his clear tone, reflective and subdued style, soft volume and careful, restrained approach in his choices of notes for melodic sequences. He played in an army of bands before working briefly with Charlie Parker in 1952. he then began a prominent association with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, working in Mulligan's "pianoless" quartet. Baker's first recording as a leader came in 1953, he later started his own quartet with pianist Russ Freeman.
It was also in 1953 that Baker first showed his vocal abilities on record. His earliest material displayed a stunning innocence. He began enjoying enormous popularity as a leader and dominated jazz critics polls for several years. Baker recorded for Pacific Jazz and Riverside during the 50's. He recorded for Prestige in the mid 60's, working with George Coleman, his style then became less cool and moved toward hard-bop. He reunited with Mulligan in the 70's and recorded prolifically throughout the 70's and 80's. He fell to his death in 1988.