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Last concert appearance of Stan Getz and Chet Baker

Hi all,

 

About 7 years ago I had an email exchange with Chet Baker's biographer who was interested in my recollections of a "concert" that took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1983. Following is the information that I provided.

 

In case anyone is interested ...

 

Cheers,

 

Ross McKenzie

Melbourne Australia

 

*********************

Hi Guys,
 
Happy to be able to help, albeit in a small way.
 
Jeddah is on the west coast of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. There was a fair sized expatriate community of mainly Brits, Yanks, Aussies, Canadians and Europeans working there in the early to late 1980s. Being a Muslim society, there was essentially no commercial public entertainment infrastructure apart from the football/soccer league operated by the Saudis (women were not allowed to attend such matches). So, as happens under these circumstances, the talented in the community, and the wannabees, developed their own entertainment such as a choral society, a couple of Gilbert and Sullivan groups, and theatre groups. Initially these were "sponsored" by the British and US Embassies. The assembly halls of their associated schools were used as the venues for these productions.
 
Entry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time was only possible if you were coming to perform the Muslim pilgrimage, called Hajj, or coming to work for a Saudi company who would arrange your visa many months earlier. There was no such thing as a tourist visa! I suspect, very strongly, that being US citizens, Stan and Chet would have been "smuggled" into the Kingdom by the US authorities as "diplomatic" staff of one form or another. In which case their performance would have almost certainly been in the assembly hall of the US "Jeddah Prep" school. My children attended the opposition school "The Continental".
 
The working week for us was Saturday to Wednesday inclusive, with the Thursday and Friday being the "weekend". So our "Saturday night" was actually your Thursday night. Almost all of these entertainment events took place on the Thursday night and especially the "one-offs" like the Stan and Chet event. My wife has a bunch of souvenir programmes from those years, but I could not find any for Stan and Chet, which reinforces my belief of the smuggling aspect of this event. The other shows had handbills prepared and programmes about the casts. They were circulated through the schools. Remember...there was no ticket office in downtown Jeddah <g>. The Saudis largely tolerated our local entertainment but always had one of their "monitors of public morals" attend every show to make sure that the ladies dressed and behaved correctly and that the scripts did not criticise the authorities. Marvellous use was made of puns though.
 
So....this all leads me to believe that the concert would have been on Thursday March 3, 1983 based upon your other two dates. Sadly I did not take my camera that night. The hall was only about half full, probably because the word of mouth advertising was less effective and there was less notice of the concert. I don't recall how I came to know about it but was very pleased that I did.
 
As I recall it, there was no interval and so the show was probably an hour or 90 minutes maximum. I also recall the school's drum kit being off the stage to the right hand side of the auditorium. I think that one of the school's teachers, a Glen Spedding if I remember correctly, "accompanied" Stan and Chet on snares for a couple of numbers. There was no one else performing.
 
Usually at Jeddah events, the audience would mix socially with the performers after the show...after all they were our co-workers and friends. This did not happen with Stan and Chet....at least not with us mere mortals. They may have socialised with the US embassy staff. And remember that this was officially an alcohol-free society, although we "know" there was a supply at the embassy for "medicinal purposes". Stan and Chet were probably feeling "poorly" after the show and in need of special care <g>.
 
As for the detailed program, my memory is hazy except that I recall each had a couple of solos and the rest were duets.
 
Sorry that I cannot be more helpful guys. It was a long time ago...but I do remember the glow.
 
Kind regards,
 
Ross McKenzie
Melbourne Australia
 
 
----- Original Message -----
To: me
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 11:06 AM
Subject: Chet and Stan in Jeddah

Dear Mr McKenzie
 
Jeroen (who was Chet's first biographer) and I run a small group collating details of Chet's career, and we were most interested in your recollection at Greg's site of what was almost certainly Chet and Stan's last appearance together on stage.
Any reminiscences or details of the musicians involved or the location would be very gratefully received. The date would have been somewhere between 24 February 1983 (a Thursday) when Chet and Stan played just outside Paris and 5 March when Chet appeared at the festival in Angouleme, France.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Peter Mansell
 
 

 

Views: 189

Comment by Denis Ouellet on September 14, 2011 at 3:28pm

Thanks Ross for the info. If I understood correctly there were only Stan and Chet playing ,

no rhythm section ?

Comment by Ross McKenzie on September 21, 2011 at 3:13am

Hmmm, I thought that I was pretty clear about that. If I my memory is correct, a local music teacher Glen Spedding accompanied on one or two numbers but not for the whole performance. There was no one else ...

 

Cheers,

 

Ross

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