The French pronunciation of this man's last name would be "Bach", and Joe Baque himself could no doubt provide a detailed account of the myriad other pronunciations Americans can come up with. It would probably suit any keyboard player's sensibilities to have such a name pronounced right, not that Baque is a classical man. He cut his teeth on the late-'50s and '60s New York studio scene before relocating to the comfortable college town of Olympia, WA. The musical community there was happy to welcome such a seasoned musical veteran, and it is here where a hipster jazz fan probably first comes across him, playing piano behind the legendary, wheelchair-bound tenor saxophonist Bert Wilson on the cooking Live at the Bellevue Jazz Festival set. The group's version of "Well You Needn't" by Thelonious Monk features some superior piano playing, not a tiny accomplishment considering the difficulty of Monk's music and the challenge it presents to pianists. Yet it is not hard to imagine that Baque's background (baque-round?) would have appealed to Monk. In 1959 he took part in a Dovers doo wop session for producer Joe Davis, just one day in the life of a New York session man during an era when activity took place in a largely undocumented swirl. The music being created flowed from the same cross-currents running through Monk's music -- doo wop, rhythm & blues, gospel, and swing.
In 1962, the public's taste for naughty blues meant accompaniment work for pianists adept at the seemingly appropriate blues, rhythm & blues, or swing feels, just as it had in the '20s and '30s. The producers didn't ask Baque to play Bach or a minuet of any sort to back up singer Claudia Wheeler on her Beacon album entitled The Price Is Right. This title in the label's party album series hardly seems to promise anything particularly scandalous, but perhaps the cover art made up for that. At any rate, later titles were considered shocking enough to dim the Beacon with obscenity charges. Baque also gigged regularly as a jazz pianist in small 52nd Street clubs during this period. In 1984, he relocated to Olympia, summing up the past in his résumé as having done "studio work with jazz greats that are far too numerous to mention" and looking to the future with a cyberspace advertisement offering his services as "musician, pianist, producer, lessons, accompaniment, and recording consultation." He plays in a variety of bands on the Olympia scene, including the Electric Park Jazz Band featuring vocalist Tiffany Maki, the Ramsey Collins Band, and vocalist Greta Matassa, with whom he has made several of his more recent recording appearances.