Duck Baker is an American fingerstyle guitarist best known for his work as a soloist in various styles, from traditional music to blues, gospel, ragtime, most styles of jazz, and free improvised music. His involvement in all these styles dates back to 1970s. But Baker has also adopted the solo fingerstyle approach to group settings, and has been worked with the likes of John Zorn, Roswell Rudd, Eugene Chadbourne, and many other avant-garde musicians over the years. He formed a trio with clarinetist Alex Ward when he moved to London from San Francisco in 2005, and John Edwards replaced Joe Williamson as bassist when the latter moved to Stockholm in 2010. The trio performs music by such great jazz composers as Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, but the main focus is on Baker’s original writing, and it’s fair to say that these two masters are both strong influences.
For listeners who have followed the development of free music and cutting-edge jazz and rock in London in recent years, Baker’s trio-mates probably need less introduction then he does himself, as they are vital and very visible contributors. John Edwards is one of the most sought-after bassists on the scene; it would be easier to list important contemporaries he hasn’t worked with than those he has. Alex Ward’s abilities as a clarinetist first attracted attention with Derek Bailey when he was still a teenager and in many other contexts in the years since, but he has rarely had the opportunity to prove his facility with harmonically challenging jazz that he has in Baker’s groups. Alex is also a very proficient guitarist himself, but sticks to the clarinet in this group.
Duck Baker, guitar
Alex Ward, clarinet
John Edwards, bass