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Tuesday

Bryan Baker- Jazz Composer, Then Guitarist

(photo:www.berklee.edu)

As a follow-up to my previous article on Bryan Baker, this comes after receiving & listening to Bryan's CD "Aphotic" for a few days and finding it even better than I anticipated.

Ironically, I don't consider Aphotic a "guitar album", although plenty of great guitar is featured. And though the twenty year old Baker is credited with all the writing, and the release bears his name-- the compositions are the real magic, and the quartet shares the load in delivering his material.

Usually, releases from guitar players are primarily intended to showcase the guitarist. Conversely, drummers are known to put out recordings featuring other musicians and instruments without any added emphasis on drums-- whether you're talking about Art Blakey, Charlie Watts or Dave Weckl. Surprise! Percussionists write music too; they don't just hit stuff. And although Duke Ellington was no doubt a fine pianist, he didn't become a legend by burning up the ivories like an Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson or Chick Corea.

It's interesting when a guitarist like Bryan Baker comes along, who checks his ego at the door and distributes a lot of power to his quartet, most notably saxophonist Aaron Henry. Exuding an old soul jazz spirit, Bryan never comes off as a theory armed shredder who can play over jazz changes.

This remains a blog topic here because Bryan Baker is still one bad ass guitar player, as you'll actually discover upon hearing Aphotic. Listeners accustomed to a Guthrie Govan style guitar release will either be horribly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. Fans of Scott Henderson's compositional abilities with Tribal Tech will quickly recognize Baker's musical aptitude. Unlike Henderson, Baker maintains a lower guitar profile, which all said, is the best way I can describe his uniqueness and importance. If he wasn't significant, I wouldn't be talking about him here at Stratoblogster. These longer posts really take up my time.

The only way to really get it is to get Aphotic, otherwise it's just one of those "Talking about music = dancing about architecture" things.

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