American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Upcoming Duck Baker releases in 2019

Even as he has had to curtail most of his touring activities owing to health issues, Duck Baker has been very active in terms of releasing records in recent years, a trend that will continue in 2019. The upcoming releases will include reissues, archival recordings of previously unheard material, and new recordings. In all, as many as seven different titles will hopefully see the light of day by the end of the year, on five different labels! 

To begin with, Triple Point Records, the same label which released Duck Baker Plays Monk in late 2016 to commemorate the centennial of Thelonious Monk, has rereleased Spinning Song: Duck Baker Plays the Music of Herbie Nichols in time to celebrate the 100th birthday of Nichols, another great genius of jazz piano and composition. Spinning Song was originally issued on John Zorn’s Avant label in 1996, and it is one of the most important and critically acclaimed of all Duck Baker’s recordings. The new LP has been remastered for this release, which will be pressed on red, translucent vinyl, and is now available to order from this site, here:  The CD is here: 

Also scheduled for release in early 2019 is Plymouth Rock, which is a sort of follow-up to the 2018 Tompkins Square record, Les Blues Du Richmond. Like Les Blues, Plymouth Rock is drawn from recordings made very early in Duck’s career. Another note about this release, which will available as a download and as a budget-priced CDR, will be posted on this site when it is available, hopefully by late January of 2019.

A third release that will be out early in the year is Eugene Chadbourne with Duck Baker and Randy Hutton, The Guitar Trio in Calgary 1977: Concert and Studio Recordings. This will come out on CD on Emanem, which has been one of the leading labels for free improvised music since 1974, and which teamed with Duck Baker to release his Outside in 2016. Part of that collection was also recorded in Calgary in 1977 and featured two duets by Baker and the redoubtable Eugene Chadbourne. It turns out that Duck also had more archival recordings from the same trip, which are being released now for the first time, along the the studio recordings that Chadbourne used for one side of his third record, Guitar Trios, which was released on the Parachute label later that year. The original LP achieved cult status among fans of free improvisation and associated avant-garde styles, and the live recordings of the trio of Chadbourne, Baker, and Hutton are even more exciting. 

This avant side of Baker’s musical persona is also represented by Coffee For Three, the first record to be released by his working quartet with drummer Steve Noble joining the members of Duck’s trio, clarinetist Alex Ward and bassist John Edwards. Coffee For Three is expected to appear sometime in the spring of 2019, on the Copepod label, and consists on two improvised pieces and 6 Baker originals, several of which are new to record. This is a wild and wooly outing that represents a stylistic synthesis of American free jazz and European free improvisation (a field in which Ward, Edwards, and Noble all have considerable reputations).

Looking ahead, the Southern Summers label, which released Duck’s The County Set in 2016, is planning to reissue Baker’s second Kicking Mule record, When You Wore A Tulip in the spring. This will mark the first time this record has been released on CD, but it has been regarded as a classic of the fingerpicking style ever since it first came out (also in 1977). For the Southern Summers release, bonus tracks recorded live in 1976 at a concert in Paris have been added. These performances were previously available only on a cassette called Both Sides which has basically been unfindable for many years. (The studio recordings that made up the remainder of that release have all now been issued on Les Blues Du Richmond and Plymouth Rock.)

Later in the year, Duck’s own Fulica label will issue another collection of material which has not been released before apart from four tracks that did come out on obscure European LP’s. Called Not The First Time, this record is drawn from scattered studio recordings made mostly as demos, between 1977 and 1989, after Baker’s long association with Kicking Mule had ended and the whole record business was in a period of flux. Eventually he caught on with Shanachie and Peter Finger’s Acoustic Music label in Germany, but several of the pieces recorded on these demos were not revisited on later recordings. There are also a few near-definitive remakes of tunes from his earlier records. All in all, Not The First Time is an important addition to Duck Baker’s catalog and one that his fans will definitely want to hear.

It is also hoped that Fulica will be able to release a record by the great English guitarist Steve Hicks, playing his versions of Duck Baker tunes before the end of 2019. Most of these tunes have not been recorded before by anyone, and are part of the large body of pieces Baker wrote in 2014-2016, Pareto Sketches.