The Baker Suite
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The Baker Suite

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | INDIE

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2001
Band Folk Pop




"Live Review, The Baker Suite"

"The Baker Suite is back with their 2nd studio album, ‘Your Dreaming Self’. As was the case with the duo’s debut, ‘A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes’, The Baker Suite boils down to John Baker (vocals, guitar, piano) and Gayle Buckby (accordion, vocals) but they are rarely left on their own, rather joined by an all-star cast of musicians from all around Australia. ‘Your Dreaming Self’ was produced by Shane O’Mara (Paul Kelly, Tim Rogers) and features jazz heavyweights Paul Grabowsky (piano) and John Aué (double bass), pop legend Kate Ceberano (vocals), rock star Ross Hannaford (guitar) and rhythmic virtuosos Enrico ‘Mick’ Moreno (drums) and Ray Periera (percussion) as well as the entire Zephyr Quartet and both members of the Yearlings. This record is huge.
Somehow, complete with the phenomenal list of guest of musicians, ‘Your Dreaming Self’ maintains a high level of intimacy and an ethereal sense of character. This is due to both the intimate production technique of Shane O’Mara, who has clearly used a minimum-circuitry approach to recording this album, and the obvious friendships and musical connections that are displayed throughout this record.
As can be witnessed on album opener, Pocketful of Rhyme, this record is an extremely laid-back listen. Baker’s gentle finger-picked guitar and lyrical, honestly Australian vocal approach are on another level of subtlety. The intro lulls you into such a sense of security that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the Zephyr Quartet begins playing. However, when they do, we listen, because the arrangement is beautiful and every single member of the group plays with such passion and virtuosic flair that we don’t want to miss a second.
A stand out for this reviewer is seventh track Beanz, the bluesy, sun-drenched ode to Baker’s father, whom he lost to the 'endless war that separates the spirit from the flesh'. The lyrics are elegant and seamlessly imagined as they fall out of Baker’s mouth in a way that lets us know how true they must be. It’s a delight to hear Gayle Buckby, with accordion in hand, really having fun on this tune. When she plays, she really plays and her technique is fantastic. Also look out for her accordion on the titular Your Dreaming Self and ninth track, Amber.
There’s an underlying sexuality that bubbles throughout this record. 'You say your hamstring, it feels out of tune / Maybe my tuning fork can help things improve' suggests Baker on Evidence of Love. Moments like this on the record create room for the double bass of John Aué to preserve a slinky sense of playfulness. Aué commands the listener’s attention on this record as he weaves bass lines that are subtle yet witty and endlessly clever.
The fabulous stick-work of Mr. Mick Moreno is highly deserving of a mention too. Whenever he plays (which is not particularly often), he plays with a bubbling intensity and a soft touch. He plays with brushes mostly but it’s the notes that he doesn’t play that mean the most to me. Quite often he’ll refuse to give the backbeat any power and insist on giving it instead to Baker’s guitar, or more commonly, the handclaps of the rest of the band.
In summation, ‘Your Dreaming Self’ is fun to explore and understand but perhaps that’s not the point. In a recent phone call with John Baker, he told me that the name comes from the concept of dreaming and how little he understands it. Maybe this album isn’t meant to be deconstructed and analyzed, maybe you just have to put in on and let it tell you how it works, and you can listen from a bean-bag in your living room on a lazy Sunday afternoon". - MUSICSA website, 11/10/13

"Your Dreaming Self"

Even the opening is awesome: An easy jazzy acoustic guitar plucks nine patterns, then uses a string quartet, the sounds from the fifties to the orchestration of a Weavers song, but before the mood can turn into kitsch, asks the smoky baritone of the Australian singer / songwriter John Baker: "Could I trade a pocket full of rhyme / for some tender moments of your time?" What a deal! Baker is not only an excellent songwriter and guitar picker, but also an expressive singer. His musical duo partner Gayle Buckby finished the whole thing with a melancholy accordion and backing vocals, while bass and drums provide a groovy world beat foundation that is enriched with spherical slide guitar licks, mandolin, mellotron and piano. The sound technology exquisitely orchestrated arrangements range from bar-blues and French café music and reclined jazz harmonies to a punchy acoustic rock and never miss their purpose: a perfect synthesis of music with the lyrical text and the voice of John Baker achieved. - Folker Magazine, Germany (translated from German)

"The Baker Suite’s fourth album, Your Dreaming Self, "rouses aural aphrodisia""

The entire effort is a wonderful testament to the subtle force of John Baker and his reason-in-rhyme Gayle Buckby as performers and singer-songwriters delivering fine folk-rock, jazz and French-café-style music. Baker (guitar, piano, vocals) and Buckby (accordion, vocals) – in collaboration with John Aue (double bass), Enrico Mick Morena (drums), the Zephyr Quartet, Kate Cerberano and many others – have produced a staggeringly great collection of 11 original tunes which paint vivid, interesting portraits of real life from a true observer’s perspective. It’s reminiscent of Al Stewart at his finest. Like the British folk-rocker, Adelaide’s Baker and Buckby allow their characters to narrate stories that conjure up all sorts of images in the listener’s mind while the ductile music plays, allowing the spirit to wander. From the opening track, “A Pocketful of Rhyme”, which is a kind of waltzing folk-tune, the sound is viscerally transfixing. They continue to captivate the imagination through dreamy tunes such as “Fugitive Kind and “Evidence of Love”. Your Dreaming Self is a soul-avowing work of art that should move the darkest psyche; the deeply expressive lyrics are extravagant but never indulgent, and the music is slightly familiar yet totally engaging. It’s the kind of music that is art but not art for art’s sake, and at its heart are two fine storytellers at the very top of their game. - InDaily, January 7 2013

"Your Dreaming Self"

RATING: 4 stars
ADELAIDE singer-songwriter John Baker, artist-in-residence at the Baker Suite, fills his canvas with tantalising textures, pastel colouring and poetic phrasing. Minor masterpieces that blend folk, country, blues and jazz speckled with global allusions sit beside quirky pop songs suggestive of Paul Simon. Partner-in-rhyme Gayle Buckby's Parisian-esque piano accordion arpeggios and producer Shane O'Mara's subtle guitar and mandolin breaks add congenial adornment throughout. A string quartet backs Baker in Pocketful of Rhyme, the genteel waltz that opens Your Dreaming Self, complementing the baritone's bardic lines ("Here on the bank we will lay / And watch as the night comes to farewell the day / With one long slow kiss"). O'Mara's fluid slide work and references to precipitation lubricate Evidence Of Love and Any Other Way, along with hints of Simon's enigmatic lyricism ("My nephew likes to run, and catch the falling rain", "A wordless ecstasy like sunlight through the rain"). Phrases in the title song, inspired by a visit to Central Australia, conjure a strong sense of place: "A long caterpillar of lights / Freight train tunnels into the night / Woke by the edge of the moon / Deep craters of yellow and blue". A tango-esque rhythm intertwines with urgent narrative in The Fugitive Kind. In Four Sisters, handclaps and drums combine with a catchy chorus to provide propulsion, while Apple Tree branches off into a jazzy piano outro courtesy of Paul Grabowsky - The Weekend Australian, October 19 2013

"The Baker Suite, by Boris Kelly"

A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes ?The Baker Suite is the eponymous creation of singer-songwriter John Baker who, together with his long time artistic accomplice Gayle Bucky, has turned in a suite of fine tunes for their new release A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes. A cluster of considerable musical talent has been assembled in support by producer Paul Grabowsky. Baker has one of those voices - like Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb or Antonio Carlos Jobim - that whispers the lyric in your ear. At times, unwittingly I suspect, he channels that icon of west coast 70s cool, Michael Franks. One of the striking features of this album is the way the gentle intimacy of Baker's vocal style is never compromised by overzealous production. Even when the band is in full flight, Grabowsky manages to allow the arrangements to frame the lyric, to retain the integrity of the song. There is a lot to like in this album. The songs are rhythmically complex and diverse (everything from dancehall waltzes to shuffles, walking blues and tight knit reggae to hints of salsa and even tango). The restless energy in Baker's music, perfectly matched to his poetic leaning towards the twin themes of itinerancy and the roving eye of the visitor. Behind the eurocool of the album artwork beats a distinctively antipodean heart, evoking images and a host of characters viewed from the road and the carnival ground, both recurring metaphors in Baker's writing.?Like this from Caravan: Out here on the edge of town?The caravans are winding town?There's a bar-b-que at the swimming pool Meet Malcolm he's an ex DJ Now he's driving interstate He shoots wild pigs on his holiday?And again in Rusty Falcon: The rib cage in the red dust is worse for wear The crows are shiny undertakers here Two mangy dogs are snarling at my feet And I smell something burning in the street.?Grabowsky, Buckby and Baker have arranged the tunes to allow ample space for the listener to wander in the audio field where some very fine playing from all involved is going on. The instrumental bedrock of the music is the conversation between Baker's acoustic guitar and Buckby's accordion, a pairing brimming with nuance and whimsy. The combination cab be a little too sweet at times, especially when paired with Baker's more romantic lyrics, but Grabowsky does a great job in keeping sentimentality at bay. His medicine includes some dirty drum sounds that give the arrangements a firm spine off which the soloists can fly. And fly they do. Stephen Magnusson delivers some inspirational guitar atmospherics and when Grabowsky takes off vamping and tripping his way through Could I Be Wrong and Rusty Falcon the ensemble lifts with him. Baker is himself a highly accomplished guitarist whose playing on this album is more restrained texture than expressive soloing and it would be nice to hear him cut loose on occasion.?I recommend this album be played loud in traffic, on a long drive along a country road or over a good whiskey at home just before midnight.?The album is in stores now.?The Baker Suite’s national tour begins in mid March.?For details click here?ALBUM REVIEW?Title: A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes?Artist: The Baker Suite ?Producer: Paul Grabowsky??
- Arts Hub

"The Baker Suite featuring Paul Grabowsky"

Live review: The Baker Suite, featuring Paul Grabowsky
14/09/2009 12:37:00 PM
The rich, lush sound of the opening moments of this performance drew the audience in and held it until the standing ovation and
cheers for more at the end.
French café, gypsy reggae, a touch of country and jazz. Why don’t we hear this sort of music in the popular media? Maybe it
requires a venue like the Promethean, a glass of wine and a romantic interest.
John Baker, who writes the songs, has a whispering, almost raspy, vocal style – think Leonard Cohen or Jack Johnson. His
acoustic guitar is subtle, rhythmic and tasteful.
Gayle Buckby gives the band its distinctive sound with her gloriously melancholic accordion. My apprehension, fuelled by
previous experiences of Italian boys playing accordion at school concerts, was eased within seconds. The eyes are drawn to
Buckby, who commands the stage with her movement and presence.
The performance also featured renowned jazz pianist Paul Grabowsky. The sound of his piano was understated, beautiful and
always in sync with Buckby’s accordion. Even his solos crept up on you, with the audience appreciating the moment as he
blended back in with the band.
I was delighted that Baker and Buckby played a song on their own during the encore; they have a great sound.
The songs were largely from The Baker Suite’s upcoming CD, A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes. Baker is a poetic storyteller
with lyrical depth, and there was a rush to buy the CDs after the show. The songs feature subtle melody, light and dark, and mood
in abundance. For the hyperactive, a good red wine would be a must.
This performance was an oasis for the romantics, a great end to a hectic week, a great show. The sell-out audience showed its
appreciation. We bought the CD. - The Independent Weekly

"The Baker Suite – A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes (MGM)"

Adelaide’s John Baker trades in subtlety and nuance. The oddity is that he does this while making pop music. His lyrics have that hazy, oneiric quality you feel when awaking in the morning convinced you’ve already been up, and the last dream was real. The music echoes the words in this regard. Bakers voice is fragile and wispy, so final consonants fade to oblivion amid Gayle Buckby’s gentle backing vocals and the swishing accompaniment. The latter is all class, with Paul Grabowsky playing piano, contributing to the arrangements and producing the album. Brilliant guitarist Stephen Magnusson adds his own layers of mystery over the relaxed rhythm section and swooning violas. Pithy pop for thinking people. - The Sydney Morning Herald, May 7-13 2010 (by John Shand)

"The Baker Suite The Spiegeltent, Mon Mar 16"

There has been some great music presented at this year’s Fringe and this show proved to be a highlight. An augmented version of the band formerly known as The John Baker Duo used the occasion to present songs from their soon-to-be-released second CD. At the core the songs of quietly spoken guitarist and singer John Baker and the lyrical accordion of Gayle Buckby. Add to this their now regular accompaniment of drums and upright bass, as well as some tasty sax and viola. And a special guest appearance by the CD’s producer, pianist and all-round legend Paul Grabowsky. He cannot be complimented enough for his sparkling contributions which lifted the songs to a new level without ever trying to dominate proceedings. The main event remained the new songs, which were a delight; beautifully arranged, exquisitely presented. Clearly a labour of love. Can’t wait for the CD release.
- Rip it Up, by Adrian Miller

"Adelaide Fringe Festival: Baker Suite with Paul Grabowsky"

Over the years (not every consecutive year), The Spiegeltent has become an iconic transportable venue for various shows in the Fringe Festival here in Adelaide. Most of our past visits to this venue have predominantly been to see live music performances as it is very well equipped to support and stage the diverse music genres.
After a chaotic afternoon we still managed to arrive 20 minutes earlier than the scheduled start time of 7.00pm, which was obviously to our benefit as we secured a good position to view the seven members of this exceptional gathering.
The audience was of varying age groups and no doubt their motivation to see this show on a Monday night would have more than satisfied their expectations.
Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to see Paul Grabowsky perform with the Australian Art Orchestra and other well known Australian artists and like this occasion his choice to integrate with other musicians and performers was well received. As a result of Paul’s musicianship he has introduced us to some exceptional local talent that we had not seen before, the Baker Suite.
John Baker (guitar and vocal) and Gayle Buckby (accordion and vocals) set the precedent for an enjoyable one hour performance. The two engaged the audience by introducing the other musicians and in some cases were able to provide some background on John’s ability as a lyricist and as a storyteller. This was supplemented with some humour that added to their performance.
I have always enjoyed the accordion (it must be that eastern European heritage in me) and Gayle’s capability to seductively play this instrument added to the overall bands musical direction.
In addition the inclusion of the double bass, drums, saxophone/clarinet and viola also added to the collective mix of musical ability.

Overall with this one off performance, Paul Grabowsky took the opportunity on a couple of occasions to show why he has become an internationally renowned pianist. This performance was one of the highlights for the Fringe, which has also stirred a desire to see the Baker Suite again in the future.
Baker Suite with Paul Grabowsky
Adelaide Fringe FestivalThe Garden of Unearthly Delights, The Spiegeltent, corner of East Terrace and Rundle Street, Adelaide
John Baker (guitar and vocals), Gayle Buckby (accordion and vocals), Paul Grabowsky (piano), John Aue (double bass), BJ Barker (drums), Peter Rydell (saxophone/clarinet) and Karen Donadi (viola)
- Arts Hub, Chris Taras

"The Baker Suite – A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes (Planet/MGM)"

The Baker Suite excels at unfolding relaxed jazz/pop stories, full of humility and subtle seduction.
Under the masterful guiding hand of acclaimed producer Paul Grabowsky, everything is arranged “just so”. Even the spaces in sound are part of the music. The deftly played and stylishly artful jazz/pop flirts easily with French cafe, gypsy romantica and even reggae.
All of this care and attention allows Baker’s stories to breathe and have a life of their own.
The rustic vocals carry the air of a close friend.
DOWNLOAD: Caravans
FILE BETWEEN: Vince Jones, French Cafe - Sunday Mail April 7 2010, By Paul Nassari

"The Baker Suite A Quartet For Car Horns And Brakes DB Magazine, by Patrick Lang"

I’ve always maintained that the humble accordion is a much-undervalued instrument. By equal measures sensual, textural and driving when it needs to be, it can add so much with merely the lightest touch to any given song. Thankfully, this is a concept that Adelaide duo The Baker Suite understand, with singer/songwriter/guitarist John Baker sharing a wonderful amount of sonic space with accordionist/vocalist Gayle Buckby. Together they make a rather pretty sound, weaving a web between gypsy music, the tones of a Parisian cafe and just plain old quality song writing.
For their new album A Quartet For Car Horns And Brakes, they’ve enlisted the production and instrumental skills of Australian composer, pianist, jazz maestro and all round nice gy Paul Grabowsky, who brings their myriad of sounds together with a delightfully light touch.
Taking a fairly old school approach to the mixing, with vocal, guitar and accordion way up in the mix underneath a solid bed of a riving but versatile rhythm section, his approach allows the songs to breathe, creating a wonderfully open, spacious record,. Grabowsky also adds piano and vibraphone to a number of tracks, playing a curious hybrid of jazz and classical styles that compliments the simple arrangements perfectly.
The duo coast form one style to another with ease; from the tango of Caravans to the scratchy middle-easter tinged Could I BE Wrong? At all times Baker’s voice and keen sense of storytelling shines through, never letting the songs descend into background music.
Delicate, assured and sonically almost perfect, ‘A Quartet For Car Horns And Brakes’ has managed to keep the hushed intimacy of the duo whilst introducing a full band dynamic. The end result is charming, and one which The Baker Suite (and associates) shoud be very proud of. - DB Magazine, April 28 2010. By Patrick Lang

"The Baker Suite – A Quartet for Car Horns and Brakes (Planet/MGM)"

The Baker Suite excels at unfolding relaxed jazz/pop stories, full of humility and subtle seduction.
Under the masterful guiding hand of acclaimed producer Paul Grabowsky, everything is arranged “just so”. Even the spaces in sound are part of the music. The deftly played and stylishly artful jazz/pop flirts easily with French cafe, gypsy romantica and even reggae.
All of this care and attention allows Baker’s stories to breathe and have a life of their own.
The rustic vocals carry the air of a close friend.
DOWNLOAD: Caravans
FILE BETWEEN: Vince Jones, French Cafe - Sunday Mail April 7 2010, By Paul Nassari


Your Dreaming Self, 2013. Produced by Shane O'Mara (Distribution: The Planet Company, Aust)
A Quartet For Car Horns And Brakes, 2010. Produced by Paul Grabowsky (Distribution: The Planet Company, Aust)
Slow Music, John Baker Duo (2006)
The Raft, John Baker (2004)

Compilations:Sounds Like Cafe Volume 40 (2014)
Semaphore Songs (2012)
Sounds LIke Cafe Volume 29 (2010)
Sounds Like Cafe Volume 17 (2007)
Three D Radio Compilation CD, Depthcharge 5 (2006)
Fuse Festival Compilation CD (2006)



The Baker Suite (Australia) is John Baker (guitar) and Gayle Buckby (accordion) ,Lyndon Gray (double bass) and Julian Ferraretto (violin) - sometimes joined by Enrico Mick Morena (drums).

They've been performing internationally for over 11 years and have released 4 studio albums.  Major festival appearances include WOMADelaide (AU 2014),  International Asia-Pacific Music Festival (RU 2014),  Adelaide Cabaret Festival (AU 2014), Bohemia Jazz Festival (CZ, 2012), Okayama Cultural Festival (JP, 2010), Nelson Arts Festival (NZ, 2010), International Guitar Festival (AU, 2009), Adelaide Festival of Arts (AU), Lorch Am Rhein Cultural Festival (DE), and The Australian National Folk Festival. They've opened shows for Elton John, Kate Ceberano, Archie Roach & Ruby Hunter, Donald Harrison Quintet (US), Vika and Linda Bull, Francoiz Breut (Fr) and Mary Gauthier (US).

2013 saw the release of their critically acclaimed album, 'Your Dreaming Self', in Australia and Germany.  Produced by Shane O'Mara, guest performers on this album include Paul Grabowsky and Kate Ceberano.

Band Members