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Duck Baker

jazz guitar

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

Duck Baker

DUCK BAKER is one of the most highly regarded fingerstyle guitarists of his generation. He is unique among jazz guitarists in that his repertoire spans the entire history of the music from ragtime through swing, to modern masters like Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, to free improvisation. Baker’s devotion to American music also encompasses more traditional forms like blues, gospel, and old-time Appalachian music. Duck was born Richard R. Baker IV in 1949, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He passed his teenage years playing in rock and blues bands before becoming interested in acoustic blues and fingerpicking. Local ragtime pianist Buck Evans was a major influence on Baker’s evolution. By the time he moved to San Francisco in the early seventies, he was performing the wide range of material heard on his first record for the Kicking Mule label, There’s Something for Everyone in America. In addition to developing his solo style, Baker formed a swing duo with guitarist Thom Keats and also performed with such Bay Area luminaries as Burt Bales and Robin Hodes. Baker remains active in this music. In the late seventies, Baker recorded four more records for Kicking Mule. He also began touring as a soloist, traveling throughout North America, Western Europe, and Australia. It was also in the late seventies that Baker became associated with the free music scene, appearing with musicians like Eugene Chadbourne and John Zorn in New York and Bruce Ackley and Henry Kaiser in San Francisco. More recent associations include duos with trombone master Roswell Rudd, clarinetist/saxophonist Michael Moore, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and guitarists Woody Mann and Jamie Findlay. Since transferring to London in 2005, Baker has formed a trio dedicated primarily to his own tunes and those of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, with clarinetist Alex Ward and bassist Joe Williamson. Their first CD, The Waltz Lesson, was released in 2009. Baker also leads a quartet which is more focused on avant garde jazz, with Ward, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Steve Noble. Baker’s solo recordings since 1980 have for the most part been dedicated to his own compositions, which reflect the influence of jazz pianist/composers like Monk, Nichols, Randy Weston, etc. His pieces have been covered by numerous guitarists, and by other instrumentalists as well. Perhaps his most ambitious record, “Spinning Song”, which is devoted to the music of Herbie Nichols, got rave reviews in Jazz Times, Cadence, Coda, and the New York Times, and helped establish Baker as an important voice in the world of fingerstyle jazz guitar. Various critics named “Spinning Song” among the best jazz records of 1997 in Cadence and Coda magazines, and it placed high on the Cadence reader’s poll of that year. Acoustic Guitar magazine dubbed it “one of the best guitar records ever recorded - by anybody.”
Relevant discography: The Art of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar  (Kicking Mule), Spinning Song (Avant Records), Out of the Past (with Jamie Findlay, Day Job Records), Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans  (Day Job Records), Everything That  Rises Must Converge  (The Mighty Quinn), The Roots and Branches of American Music (Les Cousins), The Waltz Lesson  (Les Cousins), The Ducks Palace  (Incus Records).

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