Imagine to be walking on the city walls and passing the precinct of San Giorgio city prison, while the enticing soft sound of a trumpet catches your ears : its player is Chet Baker, a jazz great, jailed after a sentence for use of drugs.
This is what happened back in the years 1960-1961, when Chet Baker lived in Lucca (he occupied the room # 15 at the Hotel Universo for a long period) and with his great music and his restlessness animated the city life and the clubs in Versilia like la Bussola and il Bussolotto, where his fans followed him playing in exciting jam sessions.
As to the fact which brought to his arrest and imprisonment, he was found by police in a gas station in San Concordio, wounded and bleeding as he tried to inject himself with a dose. With the sensational trial that followed, Chet Baker was eventually condemned to 16 months' jail. They say that when he entered the prison, the guard was not sure whether he could allow him to bring his trumpet in his cell, but his superior did it, as “it was not permitted, but not even forbidden....” When he went out of prison on December 15, 1961, he received the surprise to be the guest of honour at a jazz concert organised by double bass player Giovanni Tommaso and his quartet at the Teatro del Giglio.
On Chet Baker's life in Lucca and his legal troubles, a book has just been published by Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore: it is an interesting work, mingling facts and fiction, written by Domenico Manzione, former Deputy Chief Prosecutor in Lucca, and entitled “Il mio amico Chet” (Storia un po' vera un po' no del processo a Chet Baker)” - “My friend Chet (Part real and part fictitious story of Chet Baker's trial)