Some of those among you may recognise the title of the blog post as being a tune by Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn – but they aren’t the subject of this post – oh no! Instead I would like to bring to your attention – if you are not already aware – of the phenomenon (!) that is …..Duck Baker!
What? (can one actually bake a duck?)
Duck was born Richard R. Baker IV in 1949 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He passed his teenage years playing in rock and blues bands before becoming interested in acoustic blues.
Ah – ok then – not a real duck. Instead, Mr Baker is possibly the finest and most versatile guitarist you have (probably) never heard!
I first discovered Duck playing on two tracks on John James’ excellent album Descriptive Guitar Instrumentals (nifty title John), firing off some jazzy swinging nylon strung duets. It took me a while but now I’ve worked my way through a lot of his albums (and there are a few!) and not yet discovered a clunker. He has done some superb duet work – with John Renbourn and Stefan grossman on guitars, Kieran Fahey – on fiddle and has produced a number of blindingly good recordings on his own. Moving deftly from Irish trad, to swing jazz, ragtime, blues, modern jazz and old-timer, he plays them all with a total conviction and panache which I find utterly compelling. To hear the guy playing something like Stomping at the Savoy, keeping the bottom end down relentlessly whilst improvising over the top with utter fluidity is truly stunning.
Here he rattles through Sweet Georgia Brown – just wait for him to take off at the 44 second mark – genius ensues!
He writes stuff too –
Duck has a lot of stuff on the net – much of it educational – here he runs through the Thelonious Monk compsosition Blue Monk
How about that standard by O’Carolan –
Love the way the walking bass is beautifully integrated too!
And this is truly beautiful too…
And to finish, a lovely version of The Blackbird..
Lovely tone from his Fylde acoustic too.
Check out his excellent website for more info.