Bruce Baker & The Altered Presence Jazz Band
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Bruce Baker & The Altered Presence Jazz Band

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Los Angeles, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Bruce Baker Trio - "Mandarin Blue" Album Review"

Bruce Baker, a top local pianist who is also an excellent arranger-composer, is showcased in both roles throughout Mandarin Blue which is available from
Baker, bassist Michael Alvidrez and drummer Alex Smith form a tight yet loose trio. Alvidrez interacts regularly with Baker while Smith is tasteful in support. They perform eight of the pianist's originals, covering a variety of moods. Among the highlights are the dancing blues "7 & 7", the wistful ballad "Kim," a boppish "Fireflies" and the thoughtful "Mandarin Blue." "Summer Kiss" uses five-note phrases effectively while the concise "Baked Potato," a stretched-out blues that has drum breaks, would make for a great theme song.
This is excellent modern mainstream jazz that is well worth checking out.
--Scott Yanow - L.A. Jazz Scene Newspaper


Still working on that hot first release.



A fine jazz pianist who is also a very talented composer, arranger and orchestrator, Bruce Baker has been making a stir in recent times. “When I compose,” says Bruce, “my goal is that after a song is heard once, listeners can hum the melody. I want to write songs that people can sing and will remember.” A set of his best instrumentals can be heard on his excellent trio CD Mandarin Blue and Bruce’s regular trio’s appearances at Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro have been gaining him a strong reputation.

 Bruce Baker was born and raised in Southern California. His father Irwin Baker was a jazz drummer who performed at casuals and parties. “The great pianist Paul Smith lived in the neighborhood and my father and I used to go see him play.” After having some early piano lessons from a local teacher, Bruce took a few lessons from Smith when he was 17. “When Paul became very busy, he recommended that I take lessons with Helene Mirich-Spear and she is still my teacher today. From her I learned a lot about composing, chord progressions, writing songs and especially understanding the structure of what one is listening to, learning how standards work.”

 Bruce Baker took a detour in his life, earning an engineering degree from San Diego State University and having a successful career. However he always wanted to write and play music and during the past few years he has become quite active. Inspired by Sammy Nestico, Bruce has composed music not only for his own group but for stage shows, other combos, big bands and concert orchestras in the Los Angeles area. He has also done extensive work as an orchestrator and a copyist.

 Two years ago, Bruce formed his current group. The Altered Presence Trio is named after Bruce’s first original tune that he wrote for a jazz combo. The band exclusively performs his compositions, featuring  bassist Michael Alvidrez and drummer Alex Smith (the grandson of Paul Smith). “It is important in our group for us to think along similar ways and to always pay close attention to the intent of the song.  This trio has a very good balance and we are a team rather than three individuals waiting for their chance to solo. Michael Alvidrez and Alex Smith are very intuitive players and who add a great deal to the quality of the songs, helping bring out unexpected beauty in the music.” 

 In early-2016, Bruce Baker released Mandarin Blue, a memorable CD featuring eight of his compositions performed by his trio with Alvidrez and Smith. The music covers a wide range of moods and styles ranging from swing and blues to a bossa-nova and a boogaloo. Among its highlights are the dancing blues “7 & 7,” the nostalgic ballad “Kim,” the pretty bossa “Summer Kiss” and the swinging “Baked Potato.” Bruce considers “Mandarin Blue” to be his favorite selection on the set. “As soon as we started playing that song, it went in a completely different direction than we had planned, becoming a different tune altogether. I plan to re-record it in the future as a vocal piece with Angela Vicente.”

 Bruce met Angela two years ago and has used her as a featured singer with the trio. “I can send Angela  a chart with the lyrics of a new song and she learns it before we even get together. Her voice is wonderful and her scatting is incredible.  I’m currently planning our next album which will have vocal pieces that feature Angela along with a few instrumentals. I love working with lyricists including my good friend Jacqulyn Landon and actress Lauri Johnson (Paul Smith’s daughter).” The new Bruce Baker CD is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2016.

 Bruce’s Altered Presence Trio has performed in recent times at the Royal Restaurant in Westminster and Long Beach’s Casa Ajorna. They appear most frequently at Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro where the trio and Angela Vicente have been joined by such guests as guitarist-singer Angelo Metz and the great saxophonists Richie Cole, Mark Isbell and Robert Kyle.

 When asked about his inspirations as a writer, Bruce names Michael Franks, Kenny Rankin and Van Morrison while on piano he considers Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett to be important role models, particularly for the way that they combine their voicings and substitutions with a strong emphasis on fresh melodies. But in reality, Bruce Baker’s songs and his playing sound unlike anyone but himself for he has developed his own fresh musical voice.

 In addition to continuing his work with his trio and recording a CD that features Angela Vicente’s singing, Bruce Baker’s future goals are to write a musical and to compose more pieces for singers. His knack for writing singable songs means that there is a good chance that he will be composing future standards that will be hummed by many listeners for years to come.

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