Tom Baker

San Francisco Jazz Band, Vol. 1

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Tom Baker, an excellent multi-instrumentalist based in Australia (but actually born in the U.S.), is heard exclusively on trumpet on this excellent LP which was recorded when he was 24. Most of the dozen selections feature a four-horn two-trumpet octet playing in a style not that much different than Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band of 30 years earlier. The ensembles are spirited, the soloists (which include trombonist John Bates and clarinetist Paul Furniss) are excellent in the style, and, even if Chris Qua's electric bass seems a bit out of place (although it is very much in the background), the band succeeds in re-creating the spirit of the original era, with the repertoire mostly being from the 1920s. Highlights include Clarence Williams' "Cushion Foot Stomp," "Melancholy," "Stomp Time Blues," and "Emperor Norton's Hunch."