By Crystal Caviness
Bob Baldwin hits twenty and is still counting
Contemporary jazz pianist Bob Baldwin wasn’t sure he had 20 albums’ worth of music inside of him when he released his first record in 1988, titled I’ve Got a Long Way To Go. Now, with the recent release of Twenty, so named to commemorate the milestone recording in Baldwin’s career, the New York-born musician has logged the musical miles on a journey for which he sees no immediate end.
“If we’re fortunate, we’ll get to 30,” said Baldwin, who says his next record likely will be a follow up to his successful 2004 Brazilian Chill or another tribute album, reminiscent of 2010’s Never Can Say Goodbye: A Tribute to Michael Jackson.
For now, however, Baldwin is relishing in the completion after 300 hours over eight months that birthed Twenty, which debuted at No. 13 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.
The collection of 15 songs kicks off with “Welcome To Planet Funky Onion,” an unlikely mix of jazz infused with otherworldly sounds.
“My publishing company name at SESAC is Funky Onion Music and I wanted to find something that was a little different, not your typical smooth jazz track. I wanted something with a funky groove, music that made you feel like you were entering a different planet.”
The project comes back to Earth with “Seabreeze,” the second track and first single, which features Canadian trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach from Vancouver, B.C. In addition to a total of ten new songs, Twenty also includes two remakes of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and “Butterfly,” songs which Baldwin says he “put a new spin on.”
“This is one of the more edgier records I’ve put out in the past 10 years,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin’s career as a professional musician, one that he says he has dedicated to his father, the late Robert Baldwin who taught his son to play, has included touring throughout the world, especially in Japan, Brazil and South Africa, where he has significant fan bases. The younger Baldwin also has received a number of industry awards. In 1989, the legendary Roberta Flack selected Baldwin to receive the Sony Innovators Award, and he has earned four SESAC Music Awards for airplay.
When it comes to jazz music, Baldwin is all in. So when he saw a trend with which he was displeased among jazz radio stations, the veteran jazz musician went to work.
“Twenty-four stations went away over a year and a half period,” Baldwin said of the large increase of radio stations going out of business during the past five years.
Baldwin’s antidote was to start his own contemporary jazz radio show, “New Urban Jazz,” a syndicated program airing two hours a week on 28 stations in 18 states and online with approximately a half million listeners.
“The show gives me a way to stay connected with my fans,” says Baldwin, “and with all contemporary jazz fans.”