Malcolm Lynn (Lynn) Baker has influenced many musicians you listen to in Denver but you probably do not even know it. The current head of the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music’s Jazz Program and former director of admissions for Lamont as a whole is something of a modern day renaissance man. I performed under his direction for four years in Lamont’s Jazz Orchestra and count myself the better for Lynn’s tutelage (alternatively-count better by myself). Lynn recently (September 2010) released Azure Intention, an eight song disc from his quartet out on OA/2 Records and available here for purchase as an autographed copy for your holiday gifting.
I rate Azure Intention 5 stars out of 5. Lynn wrote the tracks over a period of decades. His incredibly tuned-in and developed ear has led to the release of a technically flawless album that still oozes and pulses with life and humanity. Lynn had the opportunity to shape two of this quartet’s members during their study of Jazz at DU. This disc has a variety of tableau’s, including funk that moves your behind on an electric switch and boppin’ jazz in both recognizable and fantastic new orientations.
Azure Intention is superbly crafted by each of it’s fine musicians. Lynn brought lots of talent to the studio with him. Pianist Reggie Berg, bassist Bijoux Barbosa, and drummer Paul Mullikin all entertain and enliven in both accompanying and soloing roles. Bijoux is of Brazillian extraction, and like all the players in this quartet keeps himself busy playing all around town. Reggie and Paul are the members of the quartet with time at DU under their belts. Lynn Baker Quartet’s album Azure Intention is a must-have addition to every Denver jazz-head’s collection.
Lynn is a politically conscious individual. He once told me he writes his congressional representatives at least once a day. Political intent on Azure Intention is up to you to connect to via the liner notes; the disc is entirely instrumental jazz. Furthermore, I do not think Lynn is trying to convey specific solutions to problems via Azure Intention, but he and the rest of the quartet do a great job of conveying mood’s and feelings listener’s will connect with throughout Azure Intention.
The liner is worth delving into for some specifics, one example is opening track ‘Color Line.’ This track is about extreme ethnic violence in Denver that occurred in 1993, the year Lynn became director of Jazz at DU. The song does a little mourning but a lot more questioning-a feature people who know Lynn will recognize.
All of the 8 tracks on this album are professionally performed by this madly talented quartet. For my reaction to each song, visit my blog entry here. ‘Into The Blues’ takes you into Lynn’s brain for his experience of the blues. You or your giftee should know the album does have one holiday-related tune, ‘Happy Happy New Year’. This track could get even cranky and callow Ebenezer to spontaneously add in his own lyrics about a pleasant and happy 2012.
On the title track, the quartet create a feeling of floating without ever taking their own feet off the ground. The album’s final track, ‘Spinning,’ spins you up and leaves you wishing for more. Azure Intention is great for a solitary hour to recover from the holidays or to share with friends.