Duck Baker

Duck’s Contributions


November 2004    Albums

Nothing to Declare
Paul Bley

Paul Bley has made records at such a pace that only the most determined of fans can keep up, so it's usually difficult for a reviewer to describe a new Bley album as a real standout with any confidence. But Nothing to Declare is something else again. The...


September 2004    Albums

Mosaic Select 9
Bob Brookmeyer

Bob Brookmeyer has accomplished so much in his career that no label could really do him justice, but a term that definitely doesn't work is "cool." The music on Mosaic Select 9 shows clearly how his approach to valve trombone was defined by the hot schools...


July/August 2004    Albums

The Complete Verve Roy Eldridge Sessions
Roy Eldridge

Dan Morganstern makes an excellent point in his liner notes when he laments the tendency to refer to Roy Eldridge as a "link between Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie." For one thing, Diz eschewed the kind of brilliant trumpet tone that characterized the...


March 2004    Albums

The Five A.M. Strut
Ezra Weiss

Here is a very impressive debut recording by a young pianist based in Portland, Ore., a town that has developed a reasonably lively scene in recent times, in terms of talent if not opportunity. Ezra Weiss is helped greatly by his comrades-in-arms, who breathe...


January/February 2004    Albums

Passing Ships
Andrew Hill

In the past three years composer and pianist Andrew Hill made two new records for Palmetto-2000's Dusk and 2002's A Beautiful Day-that were among the most highly regarded of their respective years. With the first release of this 1969 recording, Passing Ships...


January/February 2004    Albums

The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige and Pablo Recordings
Modern Jazz Quartet

This attractive, four-CD box set brings together recordings from the beginning of the MJQ's career with others made immediately after their seven-year breather that began in 1974. Between the early Prestige dates and the break, of course, was the long association...


January/February 2004    Albums

Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia
Thelonious Monk

It's getting more and more common to package CDs and DVDs together, not that anyone is likely to complain, since it remains hard to find outstanding performances in the latter format. In the present case, the DVD in this package features Thelonious Monk...


December 2003    Books

Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton
Howard Reich & William Gaines

This book presents itself along the following astonishing lines: the great pianist-composer Jelly Roll Morton, whose music fell from popularity in the early '30s, has ever since been relegated to a position of undeserved obscurity from which this new "definitive...


June 2003    Albums

In Person Friday Night at the Blackhawk, Complete
Miles Davis

Critical opinion will probably always be divided on such aspects of Miles Davis' career as his early work with Charlie Parker, the collaborations with Gil Evans and his jazz-rock periods. But there's little controversy about other areas; almost everyone...


June 2003    Albums

African Magic
Abdullah Ibrahim

Annotator Peter Pannke goes to some lengths to try and convey the magical, nonrational and non-Western nature of the spell that Abdullah Ibrahim casts on this delicious live recording of his trio. Pannke's attempt may seem a dangerous exercise, but it is...


April 2003    Albums

Paris Blues
Horace Silver

For hard-bop fanciers, the release of a previously unheard 1962 concert by the Horace Silver Quintet is an event worthy of celebration. Though this edition of the group recorded six-and-a-half classic records for Blue Note, most fans of the idiom would probably...


January/February 2003    Albums

Sam Rivers

Even though reedist Sam Rivers is routinely referred to with such superlatives as "great," "a giant," "one of the most important," etc., he still remains underappreciated. The problem is that Rivers has always been his own man to an extent that the jazz...


December 2002    Albums

The Year of the Elephant
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet

It is rare for an all-star lineup to live up to its attendant hype, but the musicians in Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet are real stars, and their collaborative efforts on The Year of the Elephant are always sensitive and responsive and often surprising...


November 2002    Books

Perry Robinson: The Traveler
Perry Robinson & Florence Wetzel

Even in a world where nonconformity is the norm, Perry Robinson is an eccentric. He seems to view life as a quest for the unusual, unexpected and especially, to use his favorite word, “out.” His choice of instrument may even reflect this love of the outré;...


November 2002    Albums

A Beautiful Day
Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is finally gaining the recognition he deserves, and this new release strengthens the case for his singular talent. Still, he remains a difficult figure. No matter how much someone may like his music, there's not much of it I can recommend to...


July/August 2002    Albums

The Classic Columbia and Okeh Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang
Joe Venuti/Eddie Lang

Violinist Giuseppe "Joe" Venuti may not have been born on the boat that brought his family from Italy, as he liked to claim in later life, but here's one thing that is true: he and his boyhood friend, guitarist Salvatore Massaro aka Eddie Lang, were among...

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