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MP3 Duck Baker - The Salutation

Solo acoustic guitar Christmas record, featuring many ancient and unusual carols, performed by master guitarist

15 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Traditional Folk, WORLD: Celtic

Duck Baker is one of the most highly regarded fingerstyle guitarists of his generation. His repertoire ranges from traditional Irish music through old-time mountain music and bluegrass to blues, gospel, ragtime, swing and modern jazz. Baker has a reputation as a virtuoso but his performances depend as much on his humorous and informative stage manner and relaxed, tuneful vocals as on technical bravura. Baker’s greatest success has come in the guitar world; his arrangements have influenced hundreds of players who have learned from his books and recordings, and his compositions have been recorded by other pickers like Stefan Grossman, John Renbourn, Pat Kirtley, and Joe Miller. He has appeared at guitar festivals and concerts all over America and Europe, but it is perhaps more important to realize that he has made a considerable name for himself in several different musical camps. Unlike some guitarists who borrow superficially from various traditions for their solo performances, Baker has developed by learning to play each style in group situations and basing his solo arrangements on that experience.

Duck was born Richard R. Baker IV in 1949 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. His teenage years were devoted to playing in rock and blues bands before becoming interested in fingerpicking blues in local coffeehouses. Ragtime pianist Buck Evans was a major influence on Baker’s evolution, exposing the young guitarist to ragtime and early jazz at a time when they had been largely forgotten. By the time he moved to San Francisco in the early seventies, Duck was performing the wide range of material heard on his first record, “There’s Something for Everyone in America” (Kicking Mule Records, 1976).

In the late seventies, Baker recorded four more solo records, including two devoted to jazz and the first solo guitar record of Irish and Scottish music, “The Kid on the Mountain.” He also began touring as a soloist, traveling throughout North America, Western Europe, and Australia. He eventually moved to Europe where he was based for nine years before returning to San Francisco in 1986. He became a familiar figure at Irish pub sessions in London, and in the mid-eighties formed a musical association with County Galway fiddler Kieran Fahy which has continued for many years. Duck appeared on two of Kieran’s recordings and the duo also produced the CD “The Fairy Queen.” On returning to London in 2005, Duck joined forces with singer/flautist Maggie Boyle and fiddler Ben Paley to form “The Expatriate Game,” a trio that explores the ties between Irish and American traditions.

Baker has often said that his personal favorite among the twenty-odd recordings that have appeared under his name is “The Salutation.” This collection of beautiful Christmas carols and other seasonal tunes was recorded in 1987 but originally it was only released on cassette. Although each year witnesses the release of dozens of acoustic Christmas records, including several by solo guitarists, very few reflect the involvement with the music that is apparent just from reading the track listing of “The Salutation.” Many rare and unusual pieces are included in a program that’s weighted towards older European songs. A few American carols are heard, along with several from England and France. There are also tunes from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

“Duck Baker is a true genius of the guitar.” - Stefan Grossman

“Duck has discovered a way to write which is purely and originally beautiful.
I think he sets a standard we all can aspire to.” - Leo Kottke

“Listening to Duck Baker makes me feel good.” - Charlie Byrd

"One of the most interesting pickers around" - Chet Atkins

"Quite simply, Duck Baker is the premier American fingerstyle guitarist." – Sing Out

"He can go from the Mississippi Delta to the rings of Saturn" – The Village Voice

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