Highly acclaimed new urban jazz keyboardist Bob Baldwin has recently released a DVD entitled Memoirs From The Hudson on NuGroove Records. The DVD features footage of Baldwin’s show at the Croton Point Park Music Festival held on July 9th, 2005. The event was produced by Baldwin via his company City Sketches Inc. in conjunction with Janice Peppers of Peppers Entertainment and promoted by New York radio station WBLS. Baldwin praises the event for being the largest contemporary jazz music festival in Westchester County with a head count of over 6,000 people.
Special guests singer-songwriter Zoiea and smooth jazz saxophonist Marion Meadows performed selections with Baldwin alongside Baldwin’s band, which included Chulo Gatewood on bass, Skoota Warner on drums, Café Da Silva on percussion, Chembo Corniel on percussion and Gerry Gillespie on additional keyboards. Baldwin introduces each segment to the audience on the DVD, so it feels like a personalized tour through the shows as he includes additional information about the songs and some background on the artists who accompany him on stage.
Baldwin starts off the show with the single "She’s Single Ready To Mingle" from his album Standing Tall circa 2002. With Baldwin dressed in a loosely flowing summer white outfit, he embraces the breezy smooth jazz ambiance of the song. The footage captures the spot-on syncopation of the band on stage as the cameras pan over the musicians and include intervals of the audience engulfed in the music. The bass swells of Gatewood are bewitching as Baldwin’s chord shifts create glistening atmospheres and his percussionists keep the rhythmic knolls filled with smooth funk taps.
Baldwin explains to the audience how the following number "Ukuphila," which means healing, came about as an impromptu melody that his band performed at his show in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2000 shortly after Grover Washington Jr. passed away in December, 1999. He tells that the song is a tribute to Washington and is featured on his album BobBaldwin.com from 2000. The song has a cool jazz tempo with rolling waves of synth projections and eclectic, twinkling effects that produce peaceful atmospherics.
From the beginning, you have a sense that Baldwin’s music is introspective, delivering tightly rung ambient jazz sequences with jamband networking and lofty improvisations that create inner peace and warm cushioning vapors. This is a quality which Baldwin innately shares with saxophonist Marion Meadows, who joins Baldwin for the two numbers, "Body Rhythm" and "South Beach," which can be found on Marion’s album Body Rhythm from 1995.
Marion Meadows comes on stage like he is simply a humble member of Baldwin’s band. Garbed in a chaps cap, a snugly fitted T-shirt and knee-length khakis with his hair tied back in cornrow braids, he looks like a cover model for Abercrombie & Fitch’s summer catalog. But once he begins playing his saxophone, there is no doubt that his skills as a musician are prolific with a provocative wispy styling exuding classy soul textures and a propensity for frolicking twirls. Baldwin reveals at the onset of the clip that Meadows goes bike riding "like a 1,000 miles a day," which explains the long breaths that he is able to sustain for the exalting arches and subterranean dips of his wily and exotic saxophone lines. He plays his saxophone like a snake charmer exhibiting an inner calm with sultry moves.
Other performances on the DVD include the cha-cha diced "Cafezinho" from Baldwin’s disc Brazil Chill in 2004 with party-flavored rhythms, frilly Latin-jazz piping and jubilant atmospheres ripe for cocktail hour and Baldwin’s rendition of Francis Scott Key’s anthem "Star Spangled Banner" from Baldwin’s album The American Spirit in 2002. The song has a smooth soul vibe with delicate piano motifs and percussions exhibiting a gentle stride. The free jazz spirit in the dialogue is caressive and loving, while the smooth funk stylistics of the final number "People Make The World Go Round" from Baldwin’s album Cool Breeze is fashioned with Gatewood’s delectable bass bumps, Meadows sultry improvisations and Baldwin’s ambient jazz vapors. The band stops and proceeds following Baldwin’s direction perfectly and concludes the concert with a full winded crescendo and then an exasperating release.
Baldwin’s DVD Memoirs From The Hudson encapsulates those lounging days and the joyful ambiance of summer on video, which Baldwin may recall when he was growing up in Mount Vernon, New York not far from Croton Point Park. The DVD is for fans of Bob Baldwin as much as it is for people who seek music with an inner calm. The video shows audiences what they missed out on by not being at the largest contemporary jazz music festival in Westchester County, and for those who were there, the video is a visual journal of their beautiful day in the park.