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Lorraine Baker - Eden Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Baker has come up with a very original sound that is emphasised by the way that she has situated her drums & percussion as the focal point of these arrangements. It’s an approach that works very well.

Lorraine Baker

“Eden”

(Spark! Records SPARK006)

“Eden” is the début album release as a leader by the young drummer, percussionist and bandleader Lorraine Baker.

Born in Kent Baker began playing drums at the age of twelve, making her first public performance as a member of a local swing band. She subsequently studied on the Jazz Course at Trinity Laban School of Music in London, graduating with first class honours in 2009.

Baker has been mentored by the acclaimed drummer and educator Jeff Williams and has worked extensively with saxophonist Julian Siegel, pianist Simon Purcell and vocalist Christine Tobin, appearing on the singer’s latest recording, “Pelt”. Baker has also played with bassist Dave Holland and multi-instrumentalist Gilad Atzmon. She has appeared on national radio and performed at numerous prestigious jazz venues and festivals. Baker also works as a freelance drum tutor and runs   the community project “Percussion School” in Chatham and Ramsgate. She has also worked as a tutor at the acclaimed Mediterranean Summer School.

The recording of “Eden” was supported with funding from the Jazz Services Recording Support Scheme, with further assistance coming from a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“Eden” pays homage to one of Baker’s drum heroes, the late great Ed Blackwell (1929-92), who played with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden and many others.

“I have always admired the dance-like quality of Blackwell’s playing and his strong sense of melody” explains Baker.
She continues “I wanted to create my own version, taking existing tunes that featured him and re-imagining the arrangements in a modern setting, whilst showcasing my own style as an improviser”.

The project was also inspired by Baker’s collaboration with Dave Holland, a musician who had actually played with Blackwell. On one occasion Baker and Holland teamed up to play the tune “Guinea”, written by another Blackwell associate, Don Cherry.

The quartet that Baker has assembled to realise her vision includes her former mentor Liam Noble on piano, rising star Binker Golding on tenor sax and Paul Michael on electric bass. The latter also acts as Baker’s co-arranger on the tunes featured on this project.

Baker says of Michael’s contribution;
“Paul Michael has been a long term musical partner and I believe that he has an incredibly individual approach to improvisation and chordal accompaniment on electric bass. He is a key part of the project”.

This being a drummer’s album, paying tribute to the music of another drummer, it’s perhaps not too surprising that Baker’s playing is prominent in the mix throughout. Indeed the album commences with “Solo Intro” with Baker’s sticks dancing colourfully around the toms in a manner that would no doubt have brought a smile to Blackwell’s face.

The spirit of Africa was never far away from the New Orleans born Blackwell’s playing and the rhythms change as Baker’s introductory solo segues into “Dakar Dance”, a tune written by the German born vibraphonist and pianist Karl Berger. Berger moved to the US where he was a close associate of Blackwell, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Berger also played in a trio with Blackwell and Dave Holland and wrote “Dakar Dance” for that unit’s 1986 album “Transit”. It’s a bright, lively piece with vibrant, colourful, African style rhythms. Baker’s drums and percussion are right at the heart of the music alongside Michael’s springy, supple electric bass. Noble solos joyously in a piano style not necessarily always associated with him and Golding adds incisive shards of tenor sax melody.

“Thumbs Up” was written by the bassist and composer Mark Helias, who enjoyed a lengthy association with Blackwell during the drummer’s later years and also worked with Cherry.  As the title suggests the piece is fuelled by a powerful thumbed electric bass groove but there are plenty of twists and turns and breakneck changes of rhythm and tempo along the way as Baker brings her percussive skills to bear and Golding solos forcefully. Noble contributes another another barnstorming solo that seems to embrace both African and Caribbean elements. There’s also an extended feature for the leader’s drums and percussion, sometimes in dialogue with Michael’s bass.

Also by Helias “Pentahouve” is slightly less frenetic, but still highly rhythmic and grooving. “The more chilled ‘Pentahouve’ is a display of a beautiful melody written by Mark Helias” explains Baker, “I wanted to elevate the melody with a simple accompaniment, building gradually as layers overlap. The drums play almost continuously, picking up on the melody in different ways, highlighting yet never overpowering the tune and offering an emotive solo response at the conclusion”. Baker’s comments aren’t totally correct, there’s a delightful duo dialogue between Noble and Golding mid tune, but her own solo is colourful, highly distinctive and innately musical.

“Chairman Mao” comes from the pen of Charlie Haden and is underpinned by an insistent bass motif allied to sparse, rhythmic piano and long sax melody lines. All this allows Baker’s colourfully inventive drumming to come to the fore. There’s a hypnotic, trance like quality about the performance that’s sometimes reminiscent of the “zen funk” of Swiss pianist Nik Bartsch, but this music is more primal and more obviously African in origin. Golding and Noble both enjoy moments in the spotlight and both contribute hugely to the success of the piece.

The writing of Ornette Coleman himself is featured on “Blues Connotation” with its staccato rhythms and jagged, bluesy sax and piano lines. Michael’s rapid bass figures and Baker’s fidgety, energetic drumming combine to fuel an urgent, high octane solo from Golding, arguably his finest of the set. Noble’s piano solo is edgy, percussive and ultimately expansive as he stretches out exuberantly. Finally we hear from the leader with another effervescent drum feature.

Don Cherry’s “Mopti” was written for the group Old And New Dreams, a quartet of former Coleman alumni (Blackwell, Cherry, Haden and tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman) who were signed to ECM during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. This piece appeared on the 1981 album “Playing” and is introduced here by a brooding but absorbing dialogue between Michael’s bass and Baker’s drums and percussion. Sax and piano eventually appear to add heft to one of Cherry’s most memorable melodic hooks. Baker’s drums and percussion continue to play a prominent role in the arrangement as Golding solos with power and authority. He’s eventually followed by the consistently inventive and impressive Noble whose darting runs surf the bubbling undertow of bass and drums.

The album then concludes as it began with a second brief episode of imaginative solo drumming from leader Baker.

Jeff Williams has described Baker as having “a unique style” and “not sounding like anyone else”. The self acknowledged debt to Blackwell aside Baker has come up with a very original sound that is emphasised by the way that she has situated her drums and percussion as the focal point of these arrangements. It’s an unusual approach that works very well and she receives excellent support from her three highly talented colleagues. “Eden” represents an excellent tribute to the late Blackwell but is also an assured début from the imaginative and highly capable Baker.

“Eden” also appears to have become a band name and Lorraine Baker’s Eden are currently undertaking an extensive tour of the UK. I’m looking forward to seeing this music played live in November at the EFG London Jazz Festival.

The full tour schedule is listed below;


12.10.18 - Oliver’s Jazz Bar, Greenwich
16.10.18 - St Ives Jazz Club, Cornwall *
17.10.18 - Restormel Arts, St Austell, Cornwall *
18.10.18 - Cafe Jazz, Cardiff *
7.11.18 - Brunswick Pub, Hove
8.11.18 - Ram Jam, Kingston **
9.11.18 - Ramsgate Music Hall, Kent **
11.11.18 - Jazz NE, Newcastle
12.11.18 - Kenilworth Jazz Club
14.11.18 - Lescar, Sheffield
15.11.18 - The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh ±
16.11.18 - Hot Numbers, Cambridge Jazz Festival ±
18.11.18 - The Lighthouse Bar, Deal
19.11.18 - Sproggits, Leeds
21.11.18 - Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London (EFG London Jazz Festival - afternoon show)
22.11.18 - Bonington Theatre, Nottingham ±
23.11.18 - Edda Arts Centre, Stockport ±
29.11.18 - Vortex Jazz Club, London (official album launch)

* Alex Merritt: Saxophone, ± Nadim Teimoori: Saxophone, ** Jon Harvey: Bass


Lorraine Baker: https://lorrainebaker.co.uk/

Eden

Lorraine Baker

Friday, October 12, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Eden

Baker has come up with a very original sound that is emphasised by the way that she has situated her drums & percussion as the focal point of these arrangements. It’s an approach that works very well.

Lorraine Baker

“Eden”

(Spark! Records SPARK006)

“Eden” is the début album release as a leader by the young drummer, percussionist and bandleader Lorraine Baker.

Born in Kent Baker began playing drums at the age of twelve, making her first public performance as a member of a local swing band. She subsequently studied on the Jazz Course at Trinity Laban School of Music in London, graduating with first class honours in 2009.

Baker has been mentored by the acclaimed drummer and educator Jeff Williams and has worked extensively with saxophonist Julian Siegel, pianist Simon Purcell and vocalist Christine Tobin, appearing on the singer’s latest recording, “Pelt”. Baker has also played with bassist Dave Holland and multi-instrumentalist Gilad Atzmon. She has appeared on national radio and performed at numerous prestigious jazz venues and festivals. Baker also works as a freelance drum tutor and runs   the community project “Percussion School” in Chatham and Ramsgate. She has also worked as a tutor at the acclaimed Mediterranean Summer School.

The recording of “Eden” was supported with funding from the Jazz Services Recording Support Scheme, with further assistance coming from a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“Eden” pays homage to one of Baker’s drum heroes, the late great Ed Blackwell (1929-92), who played with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden and many others.

“I have always admired the dance-like quality of Blackwell’s playing and his strong sense of melody” explains Baker.
She continues “I wanted to create my own version, taking existing tunes that featured him and re-imagining the arrangements in a modern setting, whilst showcasing my own style as an improviser”.

The project was also inspired by Baker’s collaboration with Dave Holland, a musician who had actually played with Blackwell. On one occasion Baker and Holland teamed up to play the tune “Guinea”, written by another Blackwell associate, Don Cherry.

The quartet that Baker has assembled to realise her vision includes her former mentor Liam Noble on piano, rising star Binker Golding on tenor sax and Paul Michael on electric bass. The latter also acts as Baker’s co-arranger on the tunes featured on this project.

Baker says of Michael’s contribution;
“Paul Michael has been a long term musical partner and I believe that he has an incredibly individual approach to improvisation and chordal accompaniment on electric bass. He is a key part of the project”.

This being a drummer’s album, paying tribute to the music of another drummer, it’s perhaps not too surprising that Baker’s playing is prominent in the mix throughout. Indeed the album commences with “Solo Intro” with Baker’s sticks dancing colourfully around the toms in a manner that would no doubt have brought a smile to Blackwell’s face.

The spirit of Africa was never far away from the New Orleans born Blackwell’s playing and the rhythms change as Baker’s introductory solo segues into “Dakar Dance”, a tune written by the German born vibraphonist and pianist Karl Berger. Berger moved to the US where he was a close associate of Blackwell, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Berger also played in a trio with Blackwell and Dave Holland and wrote “Dakar Dance” for that unit’s 1986 album “Transit”. It’s a bright, lively piece with vibrant, colourful, African style rhythms. Baker’s drums and percussion are right at the heart of the music alongside Michael’s springy, supple electric bass. Noble solos joyously in a piano style not necessarily always associated with him and Golding adds incisive shards of tenor sax melody.

“Thumbs Up” was written by the bassist and composer Mark Helias, who enjoyed a lengthy association with Blackwell during the drummer’s later years and also worked with Cherry.  As the title suggests the piece is fuelled by a powerful thumbed electric bass groove but there are plenty of twists and turns and breakneck changes of rhythm and tempo along the way as Baker brings her percussive skills to bear and Golding solos forcefully. Noble contributes another another barnstorming solo that seems to embrace both African and Caribbean elements. There’s also an extended feature for the leader’s drums and percussion, sometimes in dialogue with Michael’s bass.

Also by Helias “Pentahouve” is slightly less frenetic, but still highly rhythmic and grooving. “The more chilled ‘Pentahouve’ is a display of a beautiful melody written by Mark Helias” explains Baker, “I wanted to elevate the melody with a simple accompaniment, building gradually as layers overlap. The drums play almost continuously, picking up on the melody in different ways, highlighting yet never overpowering the tune and offering an emotive solo response at the conclusion”. Baker’s comments aren’t totally correct, there’s a delightful duo dialogue between Noble and Golding mid tune, but her own solo is colourful, highly distinctive and innately musical.

“Chairman Mao” comes from the pen of Charlie Haden and is underpinned by an insistent bass motif allied to sparse, rhythmic piano and long sax melody lines. All this allows Baker’s colourfully inventive drumming to come to the fore. There’s a hypnotic, trance like quality about the performance that’s sometimes reminiscent of the “zen funk” of Swiss pianist Nik Bartsch, but this music is more primal and more obviously African in origin. Golding and Noble both enjoy moments in the spotlight and both contribute hugely to the success of the piece.

The writing of Ornette Coleman himself is featured on “Blues Connotation” with its staccato rhythms and jagged, bluesy sax and piano lines. Michael’s rapid bass figures and Baker’s fidgety, energetic drumming combine to fuel an urgent, high octane solo from Golding, arguably his finest of the set. Noble’s piano solo is edgy, percussive and ultimately expansive as he stretches out exuberantly. Finally we hear from the leader with another effervescent drum feature.

Don Cherry’s “Mopti” was written for the group Old And New Dreams, a quartet of former Coleman alumni (Blackwell, Cherry, Haden and tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman) who were signed to ECM during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. This piece appeared on the 1981 album “Playing” and is introduced here by a brooding but absorbing dialogue between Michael’s bass and Baker’s drums and percussion. Sax and piano eventually appear to add heft to one of Cherry’s most memorable melodic hooks. Baker’s drums and percussion continue to play a prominent role in the arrangement as Golding solos with power and authority. He’s eventually followed by the consistently inventive and impressive Noble whose darting runs surf the bubbling undertow of bass and drums.

The album then concludes as it began with a second brief episode of imaginative solo drumming from leader Baker.

Jeff Williams has described Baker as having “a unique style” and “not sounding like anyone else”. The self acknowledged debt to Blackwell aside Baker has come up with a very original sound that is emphasised by the way that she has situated her drums and percussion as the focal point of these arrangements. It’s an unusual approach that works very well and she receives excellent support from her three highly talented colleagues. “Eden” represents an excellent tribute to the late Blackwell but is also an assured début from the imaginative and highly capable Baker.

“Eden” also appears to have become a band name and Lorraine Baker’s Eden are currently undertaking an extensive tour of the UK. I’m looking forward to seeing this music played live in November at the EFG London Jazz Festival.

The full tour schedule is listed below;


12.10.18 - Oliver’s Jazz Bar, Greenwich
16.10.18 - St Ives Jazz Club, Cornwall *
17.10.18 - Restormel Arts, St Austell, Cornwall *
18.10.18 - Cafe Jazz, Cardiff *
7.11.18 - Brunswick Pub, Hove
8.11.18 - Ram Jam, Kingston **
9.11.18 - Ramsgate Music Hall, Kent **
11.11.18 - Jazz NE, Newcastle
12.11.18 - Kenilworth Jazz Club
14.11.18 - Lescar, Sheffield
15.11.18 - The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh ±
16.11.18 - Hot Numbers, Cambridge Jazz Festival ±
18.11.18 - The Lighthouse Bar, Deal
19.11.18 - Sproggits, Leeds
21.11.18 - Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London (EFG London Jazz Festival - afternoon show)
22.11.18 - Bonington Theatre, Nottingham ±
23.11.18 - Edda Arts Centre, Stockport ±
29.11.18 - Vortex Jazz Club, London (official album launch)

* Alex Merritt: Saxophone, ± Nadim Teimoori: Saxophone, ** Jon Harvey: Bass


Lorraine Baker: https://lorrainebaker.co.uk/


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