Bob Baldwin brings soul and jazz together on “Henna”

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Bob Baldwin, a New York state native, presents his 31st album. Released January 2020, “Henna” is full of soulful, jazz-rich grooves that will engage jazz fans and listeners who simply want something stylish and out of the ordinary.

A bit about Bob Baldwin

Baldwin is a contemporary jazz pianist, composer, author and producer. He grew up surrounded by music. His father, Robert Baldwin Sr., (1928-2008), was a jazz pianist who worked with legendary bassists Keter Betts and Art Davis. Baldwin’s family connection to music extends to his famous cousin, the late Larry Willis who played piano in Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Jerry Gonzalez & Fort Apache Band.

Baldwin released his first album in 1988. Titled “A Long Way to Go,” it was not the performer’s first foray into recording. Overall, Baldwin has earned five SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) is a performance-rights organization in the United States. He won his first SESAC award for airplay garnered in 2002-2003 by his single, “The Way She Looked at Me.” Baldwin’s “MelloWonder: Songs in the Key of Stevie” (2015) reached No.16 on the Billboard Overall Jazz Chart.

On “Henna,” Baldwin’s talents shine on more than a dozen songs. One song that stands out is “Club Life.”

“Club Life (smooth radio version)” by Bob Baldwin

The track that has evolved since its first version, and was recorded by Marion Meadows before Baldwin put it on “Henna,” is “Club Life.” Two versions of the song appear on Baldwin’s recording. The smooth radio one is perfect for listening, dancing, or just hanging out with friends who appreciate cool, smooth music.

The track begins with a burst of energy that finds bass and horns, or so it seems, rushing together and exploding in a kaleidoscope of sound. That rush sets the tone, but then, the soundscape chills out into a groovy soul motif that lasts throughout the piece. The horn showcases wrap around the song, and with that, soul and jazz collide and “Club Life” retains its engaging qualities.

If one possible interpretation of this song is any indication, “Club Life” is where sophistication rules. This is a club where nice clothes and classic music create an atmosphere that welcomes anyone who appreciates both. In short, “Club Life” transports listeners in an uplifting way.

On “Henna,” Baldwin is joined by a host of musicians to help bring the songs to life. CafĂ© Da Silva on percussion, Tony Lewis on drums, Dave Anderson on bass, Lori Williams on lead vocals, Ragan Whiteside on flutes, Dennis Johnson on additional drums, Brooke Alford on violin, Marlon Meadows and Walter Beasley on saxophone, Tom Browne and Joey Sommerville on trumpet, and almost a dozen others appear on various tracks and give “Henna” its full-sound.

“Henna” is available at fine retailers everywhere. For more information about Baldwin and his projects, visit:http://www.bobbaldwin.com.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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