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MP3 Hale Baskin - Classic

Hale Baskin''s unique vocal style captures 12 "classic" songs in the jazz, Broadway & movies, reggae, blues and big band genres. This 18 year-old dynamo is equally impressive live on stage in a steadily increasing show schedule.

12 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz Vocals, BLUES: Funky Blues

Show all album songs: Classic Songs

“Sitting here in limbo, waiting for the tide to flow/ Sitting here in limbo, knowing that I have to go/ Well, they’re putting up resistance/ But I know that my faith will lead me on…”

These lyrics from “Sitting in Limbo,” the final cut on Classic, seem entirely appropriate for this point in Hale Baskin’s life. She stands as a college freshman in personal limbo between being a girl and becoming a woman. She stands as an 18-year-old performer in professional limbo between artistic potential and its realization.

Not that Baskin is without accomplishment. She has already won three DownBeat Student Music Awards (most recently the ‘Best Jazz Vocalist’ for 2007 High School Division), shared the stage with Arturo Sandoval at Yoshi’s storied jazz club in Oakland, and twice performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. She often works in various formats – jam sessions, big bands and various ensembles – with some of the San Francisco Bay area’s finest musicians. Classic demonstrates her skill with all of these formats and many of these players, most notably pianists Dee Spencer and Larry Dunlap and bluesman Danny Hull on harmonica.

It might seem surprising that she would shine most brightly on one of its darkest, deepest tunes, but Baskin turns Lady Day’s “Lover Man” into a Classic highlight. She renders her heart to sing with sadness so intimate and profound that her voice, cast against Dunlap’s elegant jazz piano, seems to stop time. From where does Baskin express such mature jazz feeling? “Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Stanley Turrentine are all on my playlist for deep listening,” she explains. “Ella didn’t do too bad soaking up all those great horn players’ licks and obviously she’s a major influence.”

She also seems keen to try on different Classic styles and sounds. “God Bless the Child” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing” come straight from the jazz catechism. “Gee Baby” sounds like one of Nelson Riddle’s arrangements for Sinatra (especially the organ and drum parts); Hale both digs down and swings out on this groove, even vocalizing a muted cornet solo during the instrumental break.

Classic captures the reggae version of “Summertime” with which Baskin has been playing in performance for years. The happy sound she paints on this tune enhances its lilting rhythm, cooing and satisfied as a breastfed baby, riding and rocking that fat backbeat to get her groove on. It closes with Jimmy Cliff’s “Sittin’ in Limbo,” a reggae classic that’s been covered by Jerry Garcia, the Neville Brothers and Willie Nelson. Into this vibrantly sunny groove, Baskin steps out strong and sure to play tag and peek-a-boo with the elastic band’s thick, rubbery rhythm and the snare drum’s crackling beat.

Talent generally comes in two components. The first is easy to identify: It’s that innate gift that you either have or you don’t. The second component seems more vague but also of no less importance: It’s that desire to skillfully develop, apply and make the most of that gift. These sounds you hear, of Hale Baskin’s gift and the way she is learning to use it, are Classic.

Chris Slawecki
Senior Editor, https://www.tradebit.com
Voice of Concord Jazz, Concord Music Group
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