Jim Baker: More Questions Than Answers (2005)

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Jim Baker: More Questions Than Answers
A constantly introspective and inquisitive sound haunts More Questions Than Answers, Jim Baker's aptly titled solo debut. Baker is a Chicago-based musician who often ventures out with like-minded improvisers on projects like Ken Vandermark's Caffeine and Cornelius Cardew's Treatise. Here, Baker is left to his own devices, forging an interesting path for ten piano pieces and three synthesizer interludes.

Most of the offerings are a brief three to four minutes in length, with the acoustic pieces probing about Baker's surprisingly elegant dissonance. The synthetic products are harsher on the ear—purposely, one might assume, to produce a darker shade and a contrast to the piano's lighter qualities. Halfway through the album, the concept works well, engaging the listener at times in an odd trance of sophistication and noise.

Since many of Baker's themes are similar, though, the album's second half is not nearly as fresh. Whether it's too much of a good thing—or simply too much—will depend on your tolerance for this type of improvisational jazz. Taken in doses, Jim Baker's solo debut is a worthwhile listening experience.

Track Listing: Watching the Interstate; Tolled Deadpan; Toesin du Jour; Happenedstance; Post-Industrial Societies; Infinity Trap Blues; Is It Still Mime; Mourning Doves; Grey Comedy; Hobbesian's Choice; More Questions Than Answers; Airstrip Vespers; Through the Woods.

Personnel: Jim Baker: piano, analogue synthesizer.

Record Label: Delmark Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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