Duck Baker

Art of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar

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Fingerstyle guitar is usually associated with new age or folk music, or at least with a style that lazy critics have decided to call folk music despite the fact that it isn't really a tradition anywhere in the world. Leaving aside the fact that there needs to be a better name for original guitar music drawing on a variety of sources, what fingerstyle guitar definitely isn't associated with is jazz. The ringing tones achieved with a pick are more typical of most jazz guitarists, though there are some innovators who cross the boundaries. One of the more consistently interesting is Duck Baker, an acoustic guitarist who creates multiple melodies and unusual effects while playing both jazz standards and original tunes that can only be called jazz. Although it may seem unlikely that Baker alone can do justice to pieces that were written for a full band, his versions of tunes like "Take the 'A' Train" and "Stompin' at the Savoy" are surprisingly effective. While the ringing tones may be absent, the warmth and polyrhythms that come from adroit fingerpicking give this recording a warmth and character that is far from the sound-alike herd of flashy fusion guitar players. Simply put, Duck Baker fans who have heard him playing Celtic and gospel music need to know what the man does with jazz, and jazz fans who don't know Duck Baker need to get themselves an education about fingerstyle guitar. Those who aren't familiar with either jazz or Duck Baker can remedy two problems by buying one CD. To put it more succinctly, if you don't have this CD, you probably need it. [Note: As a free bonus, along with the music you get a very well-written set of liner notes by Baker himself, which puts the tunes into historical and musical context. Music critics will breathe a sigh of relief that Baker likes playing guitar, since he's an excellent writer and would give stiff competition to many of the hacks out there.]

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