Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Anthony James Baker: Press

Anthony James Baker - LOOKING AHEAD (2009)

Label: Independent
Nr.: None

A brand new EP from this British smooth jazz guitarist.

A few years ago (in 2001), I reviewed the debut of this British jazz-rock guitarist. Two years later he recorded the album ‘AJB Band Live!’. Saturday the 19 of July, his brand new EP came out, during a gig in the Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho in London. This EP contains older songs like ‘Slice ’n Dice’ and ‘What if…’, but also three new tracks. Songwriter/singer/multi-instrumentalist Bobby Wells from California (remember his album ‘Bayside’), wrote two songs: ‘She’s So Precious’ and ‘Looking Ahead’. Wells recorded those songs in his home studio and produced them as well. They’re melodic, joyful tracks, who invoke a feeling of the holidays. ‘Slice ’n Dice’ and ‘What if…’ were already successful during live sessions, and Anthony had help from American sax man Darren Rahn on sax, keyboards, bas, drum programming and sound effects. “Darren has brought an interesting perspective to the songs” Anthony explained, “and his experience with smooth jazz greats like Dave Koz has really helped power the album with a fresh and distinctive sound.” On top of this, Anthony wrote the new Spanish influenced song ‘Malaga’ with Rahn. Daren produced those three last songs. This collaboration only improves Anthony’s music. His sound has become smoother. “Anthony, your new EP amazes me. Nice, smooth guitar play in a laidback atmosphere. Keep up the good work!”

Original review in Dutch on:

Anthony James Baker - Looking Ahead

Guitarist Anthony James Baker has worked with many internationally acclaimed artists and shared billing with headline performers such as Tower of Power, Michael McDonald, Norman Brown and the Neville Brothers. After many years in the USA he has now returned to his native England to form a new band and write new material. The culmination of all this is his excellent five track EP titled ‘Looking Ahead’ which not only includes some of the best contemporary jazz you will hear this year but also features sublime inputs from bass player Mel Brown, production genius Darren Rahn and the multi talented Bobby Wells. The collection opens with the hugely accessible and comfortingly tender ‘She’s So Precious’. Composed by Bobby Wells (who also provides an outstanding keyboard solo) this is smooth jazz the way it is meant to be whilst ‘Malaga’, which is co-written by Baker and Darren Rahn, engenders a groove that is often Latin tinged and at times reminiscent of some of Peter White’s most distinctive work. It’s a tune that really flows and much the same can be said of the first-rate, Wells produced, title cut. More overtly Latin and with an intensity that is magical this is one seriously good track while elsewhere the bright and breezy ‘Slice n Dice’ is driven along by superb tenor sax from Rahn. When Rahn returns, this time on alto, the result, and arguably the album’s best track, is the sumptuously mid tempo ‘What If…’. With a delightful vibe that underpins Bakers claim of providing “smooth jazz with a hard edge” it promises much for this consummate performer who, much like the title of the entire piece, is ‘looking ahead’. Baker’s music is available for download at iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster. He is currently a featured artist at the high end chain of coffee shops, Cafe Nero, which has over 400 outlets across the UK.

ANTHONY JAMES BAKER - Anthony James Baker - Independant This hot self-titled release has brought a welcomed warmth through the winterized,cool offices of James Baker is a delightful find! The British-born guitarist began playing at an early age in pubs and clubs in Kent, England. In the 80's AJB hooked himself into the London music scene, where he recorded with many pop phenoms including, Tears for Fears and Big Country. A new decade,a new continent; Anthony jumped the pond and made his way to the City of the Angels where he studied with the likes of Norman Brown, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale and attended the Grove School of Music. Now a resident of Colorado, he's become a part of the Denver musical community all the while developing his fiery guitar playing into a smooth, rich signature sound. If you're not careful, the sweet tones will melt your speakers if not your heart. What sounds better than a soulful, sophisticated Stratocaster? Nothing comes to mind. Except for maybe the deep, nylon string acoustic guitar that the artist plays in addition to his electric on the album. I'm not overly drawn to reptiles, however, the opening track, "Salamander" is very appealing. Saxophonist, Nelson Rangell is featured on the funky-smooth tune, making it an in-the-pocket Smooth Jazz hit. Nelson is also featured on the following track, "Big World" and two others on the album. My particular favorite piece is "Sueli" for it's unpretentious glide and hopeful demeanor. Additionally, "Shine" and "Razzbake" showcase Anthony as a songwriter and guitarist to be reckoned. I just love the tone of this guy's electric guitar. Think Clapton meets Santana. Jazz sensibilities with pop melodies and hooks that you can sink your teeth into. Now you know why you need to pick up a copy of ANTHONY JAMES BAKER.

Sandy Shore - Listening Loft Review (Dec 20, 2003)