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Fred Thelonious Baker: Missing Link

AAJ Staff By

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Bass, bass, and more bass here. Okay, this is must for Stu Hamm fans and the Jaco Pastorius candle-burning faithful. Baker is very Hamm, circa Kings of Sleep and The Urge, but this release is 90% bass — no drums, no blazing guitars, no keys, and no vocals. "For Christine" is solo acoustic guitar which the sometimes vague liner notes leave you to assume Baker plays guitar. You gotta love bass and all its sonorities to fully enjoy this offering. Baker offers a wide range of styles from "Toccata in D min", to a cosmic "Space Bass", to Stanley Clarke-ish jams, to an African "happy tune", (with more electric guitar by Baker?), and even outros in a wild jazz fusion excursion, "The Damage Factor", (loosely based on a theme by Phil Miller). I believe it arises from Miller's In Cahoots' Cutting Both Ways release. It is my favorite "sample-and-hold-repeat and then play over" styled cut on the CD. I remember Jaco using this technique on Weather Report's live 8:30 .

If Baker ever releases anything else, "The Damage Factor", a very Michael Manring, Thönk- like monster reigns supreme as the model for further releases. Baker enters delightfully alien territory here where he should often return. I suggest the addition of drums, Binney sax, Torn, Brook, or Durant "infinite guitars" and a FT Baker project could see a strong splash in the progressive jazz fusion circles. Curiously enough, "The Damage Factor" is broken into two tracks, 12 and "mystery" track 13. Track 12 was live and Baker must've recognized a good thing and continued the groove later in the studio. So "the pieces" flow for around 18 minutes. This is a definite for all those bassists lurking at large among us.


Reprinted with the permission of John Collinge and Progression Magazine .


Title: Missing Link | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Blueprint


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