American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Upcoming releases by fingerstyle guitar master Duck Baker

There are so many upcoming Duck Baker releases that they have created a bit of a logjam; no fewer than 7 separate projects are at some point of production or post-production and another is in the planning stages. Altogether six different labels in five different countries are involved. Three of these will be released this year on the new label dedicated to Duck Baker’s music, Fulica Records.

Deja Vouty (Fulica 101)

This is the new recording by Duck’s working jazz trio, featuring Alex Ward on clarinet and John Edwards on bass. It is the first record by the group since Joe Williamson moved to Stockholm and John took his place, and all the music on the CD is newly composed Duck Baker originals, none of which have been recorded before. Several of the tunes are part of Pareto Sketches, a body of new compositions commissioned by Luigi Maramotti in 2013-2014.   Release date: June, 2016

Shades of Blue (Fulica 102)

The focus here is on different approaches to blues material and feature Duck in several different duo and trio settings, mostly recorded live, between 2000 and 2013. In addition to three tracks by the trio with Alex Ward and either John Edwards or Joe Williamson, there are a couple of performances with violinist Carla Kihlstadt and clarinetist Ben Goldberg. There are also duo numbers, featuring guitarist/steel guitarist Ken Emerson, clarinetist/alto saxophonist Michael Moore, and the legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd. Half the tunes are Baker originals, the remainder by various jazz composers, from Will Cornish to Herbie Nichols and John Coltrane to Michael Moore.  Release date: TBA

The Preacher’s Son (Fulica 103)

This recording was conceived as a follow-up to The Blues and Roots of American Music, which Duck released with the Les Cousins label in 2009. Once again the material covers a wide spectrum of styles, from traditional Irish and Appalachian dance tunes to American folk, gospel, swing, and modern jazz. This is a solo record with a few vocal numbers thrown in to balance the virtuoso fingerpicking style that Duck has refined and developed in the 40 years since his first record, There’s Something For Everyone in America, was released.  Release date: TBA

The County Set

This “twofer” release, comprised of tracks recorded at two mid-1980s sessions, is also nearing its release date. Half the material came out in Germany as You Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Boy, on cassette, and features different kinds of country material, from Appalachian fiddle tunes to western swing songs. The rest of the music comes from a session recorded for Temple Records in Scotland but never released, for various reasons. Most of this session consists of solo versions of Duck Baker originals but there are also two tracks with the great Scottish fiddler Brian McNeill, and two with saxophonist/clarinetist Dick Lee and bassist Jerry Forde. The County Set will be released on the Southern Summer label.

Release date: June, 2016

Duck Baker: Outside

This is another collection of unreleased recordings from early in Duck’s career, due to be released on Emanem, which has been among the most important labels for free improvised music ever since it was founded in 1974. The earliest tracks date from 1977, when Duck was in Calgary, Alberta, to record with Eugene Chadbourne for his Guitar Trios LP. One solo and two duos with Chadbourne augment the meager documentation of a period that saw Baker collaborate regularly with Eugene, John Zorn, Polly Bradfield, Leslie Dalaba and others on the 1970s New York downtown music scene. The rest of the record is drawn from demo tapes made in the early 1980s in London and Torino, when Baker was searching for a label for his contemporary performances. Several of the compositions here were never recorded in later years, and represent some of Baker’s most forward-looking work. Release date: May, 2016

Duck Plays Monk, another exciting and long-awaited release, is due to be released on Triple Point Records as an audiophile LP. This will be Baker’s first vinyl record in over 30 years. In some ways Duck Plays Monk might be considered a companion piece to Spinning Song, the collection of solo guitar arrangements of Herbie Nichols’ music that was released in 1996. Spinning Song is regarded as a solo jazz guitar classic of sorts, but the new record should go even further towards cementing Baker’s reputation in the field, especially as regards his abilities as an improviser. At this point recording is completed, but a release date has yet to be scheduled.

Finally, a recording dedicated to Pareto Sketches, a body of new material commissioned by Luigi Maramotti in 2013-2014 is in the works, for  the Italian Barcode label. Duck has recorded about a half dozen solos and two duos with the fine Italian guitarist, Michele Calgaro, who has also recorded four solos. In late June, two more outstanding Italian fingerstylists, Davide Mastrangelo and Val Bonetti, will also contribute solos and duos and it is hoped that Barcode will release the CD either late this year or in early 2017. This promises to be a handsome production, along the lines of the well-received 2010 anthology Donna Lombarda, which featured Duck Baker, Woody Mann, and other American guitarists performing Italian traditional tunes.

A similar project to feature other American guitarists is in the planning stages, but it is too early to share any details about his. Stay tuned for updates. A crowd-funding project will be launched this summer, to help finance the three Fulica releases and hopefully even go some way towards other projects that are in early planning stages, all dedicated to the music of Duck Baker.