King Ernest Baker died in a car crash in Los Angeles on March 4, 2000, just a few days after he finished recording Blues Got Soul. His death seems all the more tragic when you hear the CD. Blues Got Soul is so deep-hearted, the singer would surely have landed more gigs and perhaps some real money from its release.
Blues Got Soul is a moving collection of slow and mid-tempo tunes that hark back to classic songs by Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, and other Southern soul singers. It's the sort of deep-soul album rarely recorded in this era of cookie-cutter pop and guitar-dominated blues. Baker sings with incredible range given his age (61). His voice is smoky and seductive, and when it rises to a falsetto, it's downright stirring. A full-bodied horn section, low-profile electric guitars, and occasional organ contribute to the classic soul sound.
The material is excellent, though the tempos are persistently slow. The centerpiece is a beautiful version of Tom Waits' "House Where Nobody Lives." Equally stirring is "I Must Have Lost My Mind," a redemptive song with a powerful Al Green-like vibe. "Rock Me in Your Arms" is a catchy love song dripping in soul, while "Blues Conviction" conveys the pain and guilt of adultery as emotionally as any tune could.
A couple of years ago, Baker embarked on a musical comeback after working for 14 years with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. A native of Natchez, Miss., King Ernest spent most of his performing career in Chicago. He was never as famous as many lesser talents, but King Ernest was always respected by his fellow musicians. Mick Jagger, for instance, is a huge King Ernest fan, and he even lent a song to Baker's previous release King of Hearts.
King Ernest Baker left a lot of his spirit behind on Blues Got Soul. If you miss that old soul music, track this one down.
Track Listing: Suffer and Stay; Blues Conviction; Contentment; Rock Me in Your Arms; House Where Nobody Lives; Fallin' Down on My Face With the Blues; Till the Day I Die; Must Have Lost My Mind; Wood Rat; Regular Man
Personnel: "King" Ernest Baker (vocals); Robert Thomas Bucy (guitar); Laurence Baulden (bass); Steve Mugallian (drums); Andy Kaulkin (piano, organ); Deston Berry, Kincaid Smith (background vocals); Jeff Turmes, Efren Santana, Michael Benedict (saxophones); Kincaid Smith (trumpet); Rick Holmstrom (guitar, background vocals)
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.