American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Shades Of Blue




Shades of Blue

(Fulica Records FCD102)


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01 Families Be So Mean 07:12
02 The Happenings 06:35
03 Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Duck Baker Trio) 03:41
04 Rusty Jones (Duck Baker & Ken Emerson) 04:12
05 Lady Sings The Blues 06:02
06 U Mest Mutrein (Duck Baker Trio) 04:13
07 Cross Keys 05:07
08 Mr. Syms 04:43
09 Crawl Don’t Walk 04:13
10 Buddy Bolden’s Blues (Duck Baker & Ken Emerson) 03:32


Michael Moore, alto saxophone
The Bimhaus, Amsterdam, July 25, 2008 (Michael Moore, Harvest Brick)

Carla Kihlstadt, violin. Ben Goldberg, clarinet
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley. August 27, 2000 (Herbie Nichols, Roswell Music)

Alex Ward, clarinet, Joe Williamson, bass. Glenn Miller, Stockholm.
September 2009, Rico Repotente, engineer (Duck Baker, Fruia Musica)

Ken Emerson, Hawaiian steel guitar, Treble In Paradise Studios,
Princevllle, Kaua’i, Hawaii, 2003 (Duck Baker, Fruia Musica)

Roswell Rudd, trombone, The Outpost, Albuquerque, March 28, 2004
(Herbie Nichols, Universal Music)

Alex Ward, clarinet, John Edwards, bass. Stowaway Studios. London,
January 2015, Alex Ward, engineer (Duck Baker, Fruia Musica)

Carla Kihlstadt. violin, Ben Goldberg, clarinet
Freight & Salvage. Berkeley. August 27. 2000 (Duck Baker. Fruia Musica)

Michael Moore, clarinet
The Bimhaus, Amsterdam, July 25. 2008 (John Coltrane, Jowcol Music)

Alex Ward., clarinet, John Edwards, bass, Stowaway Studios,
London, January 2015. Alex Ward, engineer (Duck Baker, Fruia Musica)

Ken Emerson, guitar, Treble in Paradise Studios
Princeville, Kaua’i, Hawaii, 2003 (PD, arr. Baker, Fruia Musica)


Photography: Nico Ruffato.

Remastering: Stowaway Studios,
Alex Ward, engineer

Design: Saana Baker

Over the years, I’ve had the good Luck to work with Lots of great interpreters of various jazz and blues styles, and at some point thought it would be interesting to assemble recordings of blues tunes made with some of them. About half of these are Live versions of things recorded in the studio, usually as solos. The rest are tunes I’ve not recorded before in any context.

The most old-school tracks are the two with Kenny Emerson, one of the most soulful Hawaiian steel guitarists you will ever hear, and an excellent blues guitarist to boot. Kenny and I worked together a lot from about 1999-2003, and eventually recorded enough tracks together to put out a duo record, but by the time it was done I had relocated from California to London, and Kenny was still Living in Kauai, so we decided to divvy up the tracks. His solo on “Rusty Jones” Is something else! “Rusty,” by the way. is an old friend from Richmond, Virginia, William Russell Jones. Whatever anyone has ever said about him, he is not a man who seems to hurry. When I wrote this, it reminded me of Rusty’s deliberate pace. “Buddy Bolden” is a tune I’ve played forever, both solo and with many different people, and recorded on The Roots And Branches of American Music. It’s also the first strain of the ragtime classic “St. Louis Tickle,” which Dave Van Ronk arranged for guitar back in the early ’60s. I still remember seeing another friend, the late Rick Richardson, play this in a coffeehouse in Richmond, VA In about 1965. The first fingerpicking standard that really captivated me.

In the summer of 2000 I shared a wonderful weekend’s work with a trio I have wanted to reassemble ever since, featuring Carla Kihlstadt on violin and Ben Goldberg on clarinet. These two were already known as heavyweights on the Bay Area contemporary music scene and I felt Like we had a really nice synergy. “The Happenings” is the only surviving blues Line by the great pianist/composer Herbie Nichols, and this is basically an expansion of the version I played on my record of solo arrangements of Herbie’s music, Spinning Song. “Cross Keys” originally appeared as a solo, on The Clear Blue Sky.

I don’t think any instrument combines better with the timbre of a nylon strung guitar than the clarinet, and I have had the great fortune of being able to work with several of the best in the business. I met Alex Ward when I moved back to London in 2004, and asked Steve Beresford If he knew any young musicians who might want to join forces with me. He put me in touch with bassist Joe Williamson, and Joe suggested Alex as the other trio member. Eventually Joe moved to Stockholm, which is where the tracks heard here were recorded. This is the debut for “Slippin’ and Slidin’ ” on record, though I wrote It In 1983 when I was Living in a Pensione near Piazza Castello, in Turin. I’ve recorded two solo versions of “Crawl, Don’t Walk” but. as often happens when I dust off these old tunes for the trio, I had to come up with new guitar parts. With Joe no Longer available for trio gigs in London, John Edwards came on board, and he is heard on “U Mest Mutrein” (“The starter motor master”). This one is titled in honor of a master mechanic In Puglia who effected a miraculous cure of the band bus when I was on tour with a great bunch called the Bermuda Acoustic Trio, in the summer of 2012.

I met Michael Moore In 2007, when John Zorn asked me to curate two weeks at The Stone in Manhattan. I got in touch and we met to put together a duo set one afternoon and played the next night, as I recall. Michael is from northern California but has been based in Amsterdam for the better part of thirty years and is best known for his long association with the ICP Orchestra. He is thought of as a clarinetist, but as you hear on his own “Families Be So Mean”, he’s also great on alto. Bass clarinet, too.

As for Roswell Rudd, he was one of my big heroes when I was first getting into free jazz in the late ‘6os, and I count myself lucky to have been able to get to know him, and to work with him. I don’t think I could have gotten through my Herbie Nichols record without his input, and it really was an honor to play some of Herbie’s tunes with Roswell, who of course played with the composer. “Lady Sings the Blues” is not strictly a blues, but it is Herbie’s more famous tune, owing to the fact that Billie Holiday loved it and wrote words for it. It’s also the first Herbie Nichols tune I ever heard, from the version Roswell played with Archie Shepp on Archie’s Live in San Francisco record.  

JUNE, 2016