Speaking about a work written and thought by someone else is not easy; even less so if, as in the specific case, I speak about a guitarist who has made (and still continues to do) the history of the world’s acoustic guitar. I’m talking about the American guitarist Duck Baker. In the world of acoustic guitar his name is well known by fans of the genre, especially for his association with Stefan Grossman, with whom he collaborated a lot, especially in the 80s; however, his name contains many experiences related to different musical genres.
Last year I had the pleasure of being able to meet him directly and host a few days at my house, on the occasion of the concert he held in Padua; this meeting gave me the opportunity to see directly his approach to music and enter more deeply into his “musical universe”. The discovery that I have made (even if more than a discovery I would like to confirm) is the vastness, not only of his guitar competence, but also of musical knowledge in a general sense.
His competence, including a “vast” repertoire ranging from traditional ragtime to blues, from Irish music to jazz, from Country to Gospel, immediately impressed me and especially the ease in moving quickly from one musical genre to another. This vast knowledge is the result of collaborations and decades of music played with world-class artists.
In those days I was able to see him working directly and intuiting, even just a small part, of his vision on the guitar; the only listening to some anecdotes of his career are a memory that I will take as personal baggage.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of listening to one of his latest works (kindly given to me by Davide Mastrangelo), who at the time of my meeting with Duck was still on working: I’m talking about the album “Pareto Sketches”.
The album in question is a collection of 21 original songs by Duck Baker fingerstyle guitar and is divided into two CDs, the first where they are proposed several duets, while the second where the different artists alternate in the performance of the songs.
The album, in fact, was made with the collaboration of guitarists that I admire very much, with some of whom I also have a friendship: Davide Mastrangelo, Michele Calgaro, Simone Val Bonetti, Massimo Gatti and Lugi Maramotti.
“Pareto Sketches” contains, in my opinion, all the fascinating complexity of Duck Baker; Certainly it is an album that should be savored calmly and is not suitable for a quick listening, but the real heart of the work is the beauty and refinement of the compositions and themes played. The first impression I had in listening was to hear Thelonious Monk on guitar, both for style and for compositional ideas, very often surprising and unexpected; the use of harmonies and compositional style undoubtedly place this album – suspended between blues, jazz and traditional standards – as a milestone in the discography of contemporary acoustic guitar.
In addition to the themes played, the improvisations that the different artists recorded, each with their own personal touch, are of considerable interest.
This work has really impressed me for the richness of content.
I have already studied a couple of pieces and the material is really rich and innovative.
I recommend buying from the Duck Baker site, for those who want to listen high quality music or for guitarists who want to discover this complex but enlightening musical dimension: the sound world of the great Duck Baker.