The Bryan Baker Quartet
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The Bryan Baker Quartet

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The best kept secret in music

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"Bryan Baker - Composer, Then Guitarist"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

As a follow-up to my previous article on Bryan Baker, this comes after receiving & listening to Bryan's CD "Aphotic" for a few days and finding it even better than I anticipated.

Ironically, I don't consider Aphotic a "guitar album", although plenty of great guitar is featured. And though the twenty year old Baker is credited with all the writing, and the release bears his name-- the compositions are the real magic, and the quartet shares the load in delivering his material.

Usually, releases from guitar players are primarily intended to showcase the guitarist. Conversely, drummers are known to put out recordings featuring other musicians and instruments without any added emphasis on drums-- whether you're talking about Art Blakey, Charlie Watts or Dave Weckl. Surprise! Percussionists write music too; they don't just hit stuff. And although Duke Ellington was no doubt a fine pianist, he didn't become a legend by burning up the ivories like an Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson or Chick Corea.

It's interesting when a guitarist like Bryan Baker comes along, who checks his ego at the door and distributes a lot of power to his quartet, most notably saxophonist Aaron Henry. Exuding an old soul jazz spirit, Bryan never comes off as a theory armed shredder who can play over jazz changes.

This remains a blog topic here because Bryan Baker is still one bad ass guitar player, as you'll actually discover upon hearing Aphotic. Listeners accustomed to a Guthrie Govan style guitar release will either be horribly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. Fans of Scott Henderson's compositional abilities with Tribal Tech will quickly recognize Baker's musical aptitude. Unlike Henderson, Baker maintains a lower guitar profile, which all said, is the best way I can describe his uniqueness and importance. If he wasn't significant, I wouldn't be talking about him here at Stratoblogster. These longer posts really take up my time.

The only way to really get it is to get Aphotic, otherwise it's just one of those "Talking about music = dancing about architecture" things.
- www.stratoblogster.com


"From Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times Magazine"

"A player of jaw-dropping technique and ferocious intensity with a darkly alluring musical vision, guitarist Bryan Baker is a leading light among a new breed of six-string renegades who are tearing it up with reckless abandon while pushing stylistic boundaries with impunity. His (debut record), "Aphotic", is the most startlingly original debut by a guitarist since Pat Metheny's "Bright Size Life"." - .


"Bryan Baker - Stealth Guitarist"

Bryan Baker (B-R-Y-A-N, that's right, Bryan with a "Y" in the middle) is the latest to emerge from Berklee's arsenal of high-tech fusion guitar weaponry.


In spite of being well known in certain Jazz Circles and the Berklee community, Bryan Baker is somewhat in a "Stealth Mode".

Tipped about Bryan by an anonymous source, I've made some interesting observations. Neither Bryan's main website or his myspace include any photos of Bryan-- and the song samples at both sites are extremely short snippets. The above photo, from the Berklee site, seems to be the only online photo. Finally, until a youtube video mysteriously appeared this weekend, there was no video. To further obscure things, another Baker, acoustic guitar fingerstylist Brian Baker seems to dominate web search results. But I'm not finished... The sole BRYan Baker video presents Bryan from a fixed side angle preventing direct observation of his playing.

I'm tellin' ya, Stealth Mode. But Stealth Guitarists aren't a new phenomenon. In '76 while touring with Ponty's band, Allan Holdsworth stayed out of the spotlight behind guitarist Daryl Stuermer, allowing many to believe his solos were coming from the keyboards (we knew they weren't coming from Stuermer). Around the same time, a yet unsigned Edward Van Halen was playing solos in clubs and at parties-- his back turned to the spectators. Then there's the guy under the KFC bucket and white mask to protect his face from the 7 secret herbs and spices. All very mysterious stuff of the guitar stealth underworld.

Since age 4, the now 21 year old Baker has been studying guitar in some amazing programs resulting in full tuition scholarships to Los Angeles Music Academy (at age 14) followed by Berklee College of Music. His education bio provokes a guitar version of "Ender's Game".

Currently fronting The Bryan Baker Quartet and opening for Steps Ahead, Bryan has performed with Jimmy Haslip, Russ Ferrante, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Bob Mintzer and many others. He is promoting a recent release entitled "APHOTIC". The site links below provide more details on Bryan and the Aphotic release.

Those with the opportunity to see Bryan Baker perform live are advised to cover your eyes at the end of the show when Bryan and bandmates put on the MIB shades. It's that stealth thing... - www.stragoblogster.com


Discography

The Bryan Baker Quartet recently released their debut record, entitled "Aphotic", to massive critical acclaim. "Aphotic" can be purchased at www.bryanbakermusic.com.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Bryan Baker Quartet, together since 2005, is comprised of four of the most innovative, cutting-edge musicians on the jazz and rock scene.

Originally formed while the members of the quartet attended Berklee College of Music together, the Bryan Baker Quartet, through unrelenting dedication to spontaneous creation and constant attention to detail, have created a musical language completely unique and un-restrained by genre.

Just as likely to pummel and bash out a rock groove as they are to spontaneously create a four-part composition, the members of the Bryan Baker Quartet are fluent in the language of many musical styles, yet refuse to allow themselves to be defined by any of them.