Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Lynn Baker Quartet: Azure Intention

OA2 Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Azure Intention

Lynn Baker is another musician with a primary job as a teacher, and is a player in a secondary capacity. When jazz was at its peak, schools didn't teach this art form; openings as sidemen were so abundant that talented, mostly self-taught, artists had all the work they desired. 

Then, just as a demand arose for high school- and college-age courses in jazz, public interest began to wane. As a result, many of today's jazz musicians must augment their income by teaching, in order to be able to make a living composing and playing the music they love.

This album contains selections composed and arranged by Baker during the past 20 years. Since 1993, he has been director of the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music. Three members of this quartet were students there: Pianist Reggie Berg and drummer Paul Mullikin join Baker, who performs on soprano/tenor saxes and congas.  Brazilian bassist Buoux Barbosa moved to Denver in 1996, where he remains much in demand.

This is a thinking listener's jazz; every track has a motive or theme behind it. The music is relatively complex, without being stuffy, performed with variations in meter, key and style. For example, "Into the Blues" begins in 5/2 time, then transitions into a driving 4/4 straight-ahead groove. 

The resulting tracks will never bore you. 

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