Jan. 25, 2014
With so many artists celebrating milestones in this biz, it is only fitting that we turn to yet another in keyboardist/producer/entrepreneur Bob Baldwin who celebrates 20 albums in 25 years with his release of Twenty. This one was a bit late getting to me, but the music makes the wait very tolerable as Baldwin produces some more of that slick, strutting sound of R&B/jazz/funk that bears his fingerprints all over it.
With masterful tributes to the late Michael Jackson (Never Can Say Goodbye) and Thom Bell (Betcha By Golly Wow: The Songs of Thom Bell) now under his belt, Baldwin again ventures out with his own creative endeavor.
The tunes here are typical Baldwin: Tight, well-phrased, often funky, and with a lot of bounce and charm.
Along with rich covers of Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard, Baldwin has Marion Meadows, Joey Sommerville, Ragan Whiteside, and Gabriel Mark Hasselbach, among others helping out here. The result is simply of top-shelf quality.
Tackling everything from good, solid R&B/jazz to the sizzling fusion of Hancock’s “Chameleon,” Baldwin shows that he is nowhere near ready to slow down. His strong sense of where he wants to be is shown here on the various eclectic tracks. Take a listen to “The Mashup,” a hip hop/jazz hybrid, the funky “Turn the Club Up,” the smooth and jazzy/R&Bish “On and On,” a dead-on spoken word about “Time” and how valuable it is to us all, and the previously mentioned cover of Hancock’s “Chameleon.” You’ll see and feel the powerful eclecticism and creativity of this artist who has grown immensely since my first exposure to him many years ago as the early morning opening act at the Capital Jazz Fest in Maryland. I believe it was there that his talent and imagination were bared for all to see – and many have never forgotten that humble beginning – including him. Twenty is a masterful production indeed. – Ronald Jackson