R & B, JAZZ VIRTUOSO GUITARIST GEORGE BAKER
"Guitar George" Baker's debut CD has been a long time coming. Titled "Mojo Lady," he recorded the tracks over the course of 12 years at studios in Connecticut and Hollywood, culminating in a 10-song collection that showcases George's style: bluesy, roots-inspired jazz expressed with the virtuosity of a guitar master.
Twelve years is just a drop in the bucket, however. George's career began in his hometown of New Roads, Louisiana, where he picked up a guitar at the age of 17. His first gigs were with local R&B vocalist Roosevelt "Boo" Gautier. He soon joined Earl Davis and the Upsetters and hit the road, touring with The Drifters and other headliners before jumping ship and coming to New York City in 1961.
Soon he met Trevor Lawrence, and the two attended Brooklyn Conservatory together. With a thriving New York music scene, George's guitar work was in demand. He recorded with Bobby Robinson (of "Kansas City" fame) and joined the house band at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
In 1968 he became musical director for the great Marvin Gaye, and toured the country with him for three years. He then joined up with Melba Moore for an 18-month tour before settling back in New York as a freelance player and session man.
It wasn't until George moved to New Haven that he became a headliner himself. Working with talented local musicians he formed the George Baker Experience, performing live and writing material for his debut CD.
"Mojo Lady" has 10 hot tracks - five of which are available on DVD - and feature the musicianship of the original George Baker Experience: Kyle Esposito on bass; Nick Lloyd on keyboards; Chris Lyons on drums; Lou Ianello on sax; and the additional talents of rhythm guitarist Tom Stonoha; keyboardist Sam Oliver; and Stevie Wonder's horn section, i.e. Steve Madaio on trumpet and, on saxophone, George's long-time friend, producer, and owner of Blue Palm Studios and Tretab A/V, Mr. Trevor Lawrence.
Besides great tunes, the new CD/DVD package offers bonus material, including interviews with "Guitar George" Baker and photos and footage from his long and fascinating career.
Watch for "Guitar George" Baker's Teaching System, a comprehensive course in improvisation for all musical instruments. Stay tuned.