An eclectic new CD by composer and fretless guitarist Tom Baker, featuring new compositions by Baker and Christian Asplund, with arrangements of the Bill Evans tune Peace Piece and the Mort Dixon tune Bye Bye Blackbird. Pieces for electric fretless guitar, classical fretless guitar, and one piece for 12-string fretless guitar with three cacti! A truly unique record!
Produced by Mark Radonich and Tom Baker for Present Sounds Recordings (p) 2003
Executive Producer: Mark Radonich
Associate Producer: Alissa Rupp
In association with D'AUTRES CORDES O31
No succulents were harmed in the making of this record.
Tom Baker has been active as a composer, performer and music producer in the Seattle new-music scene since arriving in 1994. His works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada and in Europe. Tom is the co-founder of the Seattle EXperimental Opera (SEXO) and the artistic director of the new-music concert series, the Seattle Composers' Salon.
Tom plays a classical fretless guitar by David Boehlke (modified by Paul Stroh), a Fender Stratocaster with a fretless rosewood fingerboard by Warmouth Guitars, a Fernandez Native Pro fretless retrofitted with a glass fingerboard, and a 12-string fretless guitar of unknown origin (modified by a pair of pliers and some wood glue.) Tom plays D'Addario strings on all guitars.
What exactly is a fretless guitar?
About eight years ago I went to see a band that featured an old friend of mine, Ned Evett, on guitar. Ned's considerable talents were evident from the start, but sometime in the third set he picked up another guitar, this one without frets. The music that he made was unlike any guitar music I had ever heard, and I went directly home and took a pair of pliers to my Fender Strat. Removing the frets from a guitar is a little like creating a piano with an infinite number of keys. Instead of the somewhat artificial (though not arbitrary) division of the string into equally-tempered half-steps, an entire continuum of pitches was now available to be employed. This multiplicity of the pitch spectrum had a profound effect on my playing, and on my composing as well.
The title track to this album, "Sounding the Curve," was the first piece I wrote with this very new and somewhat radical instrument. The piece was commissioned by the Experience Music Project Museum, and was inspired by the curvelinear forms used by architect Frank Gehry (www.entenginc.com/whatwedo/images/emp/emp.html). In 2001 I received a grant from the King County Arts Commission to write two more pieces based on recent architectural work in Seattle. "Seven Lights in a Stone Box" is a sonic journey through the seven rooms of the magnificent St. Ignatius Chapel, designed by Steven Holl (www.seattleu.edu/chapel/). "Spirals" is a formal analogue to the still-in-progress Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas (www.spl.org/lfa/central/schematicdesign.html).
The musical works are each dedicated to the architects whose vision brought these extraordinary works of architecture into the world.
The other works on this record have evolved from my on-going relationship with the fretless guitar; each in its own way participates in my personal exploration and experimentation with this instrument.