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Tom Baker Quartet: Look What I Found

Look What I Found is the latest from the Tom Baker Quartet, a dark mix of avant-garde and jazz improvisation. Led by guitarist Tom Baker, the band also features Jesse Canterbury on clarinet, Greg Campbell on drums, and Brian Cobb on bass. While parts of the album have a strong acoustic jazz feel, for the most part this is free spirited and dissonant avant-garde music, high on improvisation and angular arrangements rather than catchy melodies. Fans of Robin Taylor and his Taylor's Free Universe will probably want to check out Look What I Found, as it has a similar feel to that band's output, not so much in sound but more in attitude and sense of experimentation. Baker's looping electric guitar runs permeate "Anton and Louis" like a young John McLaughlin, while "Metamorphosis Happens" sees the band really honing in on the avant-jazz tag, as this piece is ripe with pounding drums, jagged slices of King Crimson-ish guitar noise, and Canterbury's angry clarinet blasts. The latter might be the most upbeat piece on the CD next to "Swampled", a quirky number closely resembling some of the early 70's Canterbury bands like Soft Machine, National Health, and Hatfield & the North, with complex arrangements and a fun yet aggressive jazzy sense. "Grace" is a neat piece that had it not contained electric guitar could have masqueraded as a long lost track from the band Oregon, thanks to the whimsical clarinet and melodic bass grooves.

As good as the playing is throughout Look What I Found, some of the songs are perhaps too laid back and try too hard to be "avant-garde". When the band all settle into a groove and let their jazz leanings come forward, they are a dynamite force. Let's see if in the future Tom Baker and his Quartet can put together a more focused blend of upbeat material like the songs mentioned above, which for some might make for a more pleasing listen. Despite this minor quibble, this is a worthwhile listen for those into the more avant-garde reaches of the jazz spectrum.

Track Listing
1 Swampled
2 Waiting Room
3 Grace
4 Through a Glass Abstractly
5 Family of Four
6 Song For Ludmilla
7 Anton and Louis
8 Free Steps
9 Metamorphosis Happens
10 Dancing in the Ether

Added: March 6th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Tom Baker Quartet
Hits: 3100
Language: english

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