Reviews that mention Jim Baker

December 1, 2017

Mars Williams presents:

An Ayler Xmas
Soul What Records SWR 0003

Looking for that perfect seasonal gift for someone who follows Free Jazz, but is still conventional enough to celebrate the winter holidays? An Ayler Christmas may be what you need. Organized by Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams, involved in ensembles ranging from the NRG Ensemble to Ken Vandernark’s bands, his septet performs traditional fare mixed with tunes composed by saxophonist Albert Ayler during his short life (1936 -1970). Befitting holiday sentiments the tracks are played with a maximum of joy mixed with a modicum of irony. MORE

October 21, 2016

Rempis/Abrams/Ra + Baker

Perihelion
Aerophonic AR-012

An honest representation of club work in Chicago, this two-CD set is analogous to viewing the dailies in a film shoot. Multi-reedist Dave Rempis’ long-running trio with bassist Joshua Abrams, who is familiar with both Jazz and ethic sounds, plus veteran Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) percussionist Avreeayl Ra, stretches out during one long improvisation on disc one, while eccentric keyboardist Jim Baker, who has worked with everyone from Ken Vandermark to Michael Zerang joins the trio on disc two. MORE

July 25, 2013

Erb/Baker

Bottervagl
Veto-Records/exchange 006

Alberto Braida/Giancarlo Locatelli

Nel Margine

Red Toucan RT 9346

Hypothetically as uncomplicated as a private jam between musical friends, duos featuring only a pianist and a reed player add an element of riskiness when freer music is involved. Whether the participants are long-time associates like pianist Alberto Braida and clarinetist Giancarlo Locatelli, both from Italy; or on-again-off-again collaborators like Lucerne-based tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist Christoph Erb and Chicago pianist Jim Baker, facing and overcoming spatial and sonic challenges often disrupts the supposed chamber-music-like coziness of these dates. Avoiding the danger of languorous over-indulgence is always a fear, whether the session is completely improvised as is Bottervagl, or the mixture of compositions from both participants which characterizes Nel Margine. MORE

March 21, 2012

Baker/Bruckmann/Zerang

Psychotic Reaction
MultiKulti Project MP1015

Erb/Baker/Zerang

Erb/Baker/Zerang

Veto Records exchange 001

Percussionist Michael Zerang and pianist/synthesizer player Jim Baker have been playing part-time as a duo since 1995 as well as during the many years preceding and since then have been part of many Chicago ensembles, usually alongside sympathetic string and horn players. The focal point of these trio CDs, recorded five years apart, is how through trial-and-error the two create an appropriate setting when improvising with a single reed player. Neither sonically deferential nor intimidating, the two allow the third person to eke out a role in a balanced setting. MORE

March 21, 2012

Erb/Baker/Zerang

Erb/Baker/Zerang
Veto Records exchange 001

Baker/Bruckmann/Zerang

Psychotic Reaction

MultiKulti Project MP1015

Percussionist Michael Zerang and pianist/synthesizer player Jim Baker have been playing part-time as a duo since 1995 as well as during the many years preceding and since then have been part of many Chicago ensembles, usually alongside sympathetic string and horn players. The focal point of these trio CDs, recorded five years apart, is how through trial-and-error the two create an appropriate setting when improvising with a single reed player. Neither sonically deferential nor intimidating, the two allow the third person to eke out a role in a balanced setting. MORE

October 6, 2010

Festival Météo, Mulhouse, France

August 24 to August 28
By Ken Waxman

Proving that varieties of improvised music can sound as different as the personalities of those who play it, the annual Météo festival offered a cornucopia of noteworthy sounds from the bombastic to the barely audible, solo or in groups.

Venues in this Upper Rhine French city, located 30 kilometres northwest of Basel, Switzerland, also reflected this sonic diversity. Performances take place in the hushed surroundings of a 12th Century chapel downtown, and on the city’s outskirts, a capacious night club usually used for rock shows; and, new this year, within the expanses of an abandoned 1930s’ thread manufacturing factory. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur
AUM Fidelity AUM 046

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra

Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra
Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

AUM Fidelity AUM 046

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

April 10, 2006

GUILLERMO GREGORIO

Coplanar
New World Records NW 80639-2

Truthfully a New music session, the eight notated compositions by Argentinean-American composer/reedist Guillermo Gregorio owe their overall careful implementation and shape to more than the Chicago-based saxophonist and clarinetist’s theoretical basis for writing. Nearly all of the members of Gregorio’s Madi ensemble and featured guests have experience with improvised music, including the leader himself. Additionally he has such respect for the spontaneous impulse that space was left in the final track for an improvisation by bass clarinetist Ken Vandermark. MORE

October 10, 2005

JIM BAKER

More Questions Than Answers
Delmark DE 560

PANDELIS KARAYORGIS
Seventeen Pieces
Leo Records CD LR 417

Taking their own good time, the Boston and Chicago pianists featured here have at long last produced solo recordings after literally decades of performances and recordings in group settings.

Was this loss of solo virginity worth the wait? Well, as it would be sexually, the action depends on the individual. While both performances are memorable essays in keyboard virtuosity, the numerical promiscuity displayed may mean the two waited a little too long past their physical maturity. MORE

April 5, 2004

SCOTT ROSENBERG

Creative Orchestra Music, Chicago 2001
New World # 80572-2

WALTER THOMPSON ORCHESTRA
Pexo - A Soundpainting Symphony
9Winds NWCD0234

Creating structures for ensembles of improvising musicians and voices is the thread that unites these two sessions. Scott Rosenberg and Walter Thompson have formulated different paths to creation -- the former by mixing improv and written material, the later by utilizing a composing-conducting system of gestured signals.

Although both methods are praiseworthy, neither disc is 100 per cent satisfying. That’s because application of the theory sometimes breaks down in the spontaneously recorded practice. MORE

March 17, 2003

VANDERMARK/STRID/SANDELL/STACKENÄS/NORDESON

Two Days in December
Wobbly Rail 012

THE VANDERMARK 5 Free Jazz Classics Vols. 1 & 2
Atavistic ALP1372CD

TERRITORY BAND-2 Atlas
Okka Disk 12050

Ken Vandermark seems to put out more discs in a year than some earlier jazzmen did in a career. But if he keeps turning out fine sessions like this single CD (ATLAS) and two double CDs, then there's little reason to complain.

Like other improvising musicians before him, the multi-reedman realizes that the best way to keep things fresh is to consistently change playing situations. On these five discs the circumstances range from a series of duos with four different Swedish improvisers (TWO DAYS); 13 recreations of 1960s-1970s advanced jazz standards with his regular quintet (FREE JAZZ); and a speedy romp through four original compositions as part of a 12-piece mixed American/European band (ATLAS). MORE

February 10, 2003

NICOLE MITCHELL/BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE

Afrika Rising
Dreamtime Records 004

Creativity is still common currency in Chicago as the new CD by flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell proves. Even more ambitious than her debut disc (VISION QUEST also on Dreamtime Records) this CD finds Mitchell, who also teaches flute at Chicago State University, convening an even larger Black Earth Ensemble made up of 19 different musicians on various tracks. The result is an Afrocentric disc that shows off not only her flute, piccolo and vocals, but also the wealth of other Windy City talent, many of whom are also part of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. MORE

April 19, 2002

DAVID BOYKIN EXPANSE

47th Street Ghost
Dreamtime Records 003

Proving once again the old adage that everything old is new again, Chicago saxophonist David Boykin and company have produced a perfect, progressive hard bop LP. Thing is, the session was recorded not in 1958 at 33 1/3, but last year on CD. While the results are impressive, it suggests that younger members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) aren’t as involved in experimentation as their elders, who include icons like Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis, have been. MORE