Musician? Boost Your Visibility at All About Jazz

Upgrade your AAJ musician page from standard to premium and make your presence felt!

Maximize your visibility at All About Jazz by upgrading your musician page from standard to premium. With it, you'll receive All About Jazz home page exposure, a highly stylized / ad-free musician page with bonus features and benefits, an ad, plus you control where you sell your music and so much more.
Learn More

Jalen Baker: This is Me, This is Us

Troy Dostert BY

Sign in to view read count
Jalen Baker: This is Me, This is Us
Joining the ranks of young vibraphonists with skills galore, Jalen Baker brings a lot to the table on his debut record, This is Me, This is Us. Like Joel Ross, Sasha Berliner and Warren Wolf—the last of whom provides liner notes for the album—Baker's ambition goes beyond instrumental virtuosity. His compositional aims are just as impressive, as he offers a string quartet to complement several of his smartly written pieces, many of which reference pressing social and political challenges.

The strings make their presence felt early on, providing the lush backdrop and much of the energy of the opener, "So Help Me God," with trumpeter Giveton Gelin in top form, surging over a rich tapestry of sound. "Don't Shoot" combines an understated urgency with a plaintive poignancy befitting the track's evocation of fraught policing practices. Here too Gelin shines with a scintillating solo, although Baker brings the goods as well with a solo statement remarkable for its lyricism and patient development.

Muted tones predominate for much of the album, with Baker and bandmates content to present a spirit of soft-spoken, yet assured, resilience. Although some listeners might want a bit more fire, there's no denying the melodic strength of pieces like "Healing" and "Patience," which build their intensity in oblique ways but still remain compelling. The latter track is another aided with a fine arrangement for the strings, drawing on Baker's emotional instincts quite powerfully. And the band is not immune from laying down a groove either, with "Faith" finding drummer Gavin Moolchan adroitly working the brushes in tandem with bassist Gabriel Godoy, whose gregarious solo rides the rhythm with confident brio.

Finishing with a lovely unaccompanied rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today," Baker finds the perfect inspiration for his vision: one which remains resolutely hopeful amidst momentous strruggles. It's a tonic for a troubled age, and, in summer 2021, this promising debut couldn't come at a better time.

Track Listing

So Help Me God; Don’t Shoot; Interlude (Prayer for the Fallen); Healing; Patience; We Regret to Inform You; Praise; Faith; Obey Disobey; Love’s in Need of Love Today.


Jalen Baker: vibraphone; Paul Cornish: piano; Giveton Gelin: trumpet; Gabriel Godoy: bass; Gavin Moolchan: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Violins: Jessica McJunkins, Orlando Wells; Viola: Andrew Griffin; Cello: Susan Mandel.

Album information

Title: This is Me, This is Us | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Outside in Music

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Chick Corea Akoustic Band
Distant Voices
David Janeway
Two As One
Abbey Rader and John McMinn
Stepping Up
Simply This Quintet
Eightfold Path
Jeff Lederer
Skerebotte Fatta
Hogo Fogo
Mary's Ideas
Umlaut Big band


Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.