Basically Baker Vol. 2

Big-band fans have a lot to dig into on this two-CD release that celebrates the charts of Indiana University jazz educator David Baker, who died last March at age 84. Baker was a trombonist who worked in the 1950s-’60s in the bands of Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton and Quincy Jones. He began his academic career in 1966 and was instrumental in—as the PR puts it—“helping jazz make its first bold advances into the academy.” This package follows the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s highly regarded 2007 album, Basically Baker. Performed by 22 members of the community (some current and former students), the results, for me, are too sterile, too academic. I’m reminded of that 1958 interview with jazzman “Shorty Petterstein.” Asked if one “should get an academic education or strive immediately for self-expression,” Petterstein nixes education, saying the academics’ music doesn’t swing. Except for Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop,” the lone non-Baker tune, and the lively “Terrible T,” this music mostly doesn’t swing either.