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Margie Baker and Friends Live by Margie Baker

Dr. Margie Baker is a singer who loves to have fun while invoking a heavy dose of spiritual and gospel elements into the mix. For her, performing live is the ultimate form of expression and communication. Margie Baker and Friends is a two disc set consisting of a wide variety of tunes from the likes of Willie Nelson, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington to name but a few. A joyous energy abounds throughout the entire evening.

Baker's impassioned delivery on "Midnight Sun" illustrates the depth of feeling and commitment not only to the lyric but the melody as well. One gets a sense of traveling on calm seas with a touch of romance in the air.

After a brief monologue on rent parties that were all the rage during the 1920's, Baker settles into the classic "Gimme A Pigfoot." Her unique sense of storytelling and phrasing elevates the fun factor to new heights. The band cuts loose with some inspired playing. Of note is Berry's luscious trumpet work. O'Neill's slinky sax seduces the melody further. Bessie (Smith) would be proud.

Baker loves to communicate with her audience.This is evident throughout the blues number "Going To Chicago". Her subtle yet sassy approach is proof that Baker can sing the blues with confidence.

"Favela" is a lovely piece written by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Baker skirts in and around the lyric with grace and conviction. Fine accompaniment from the band.

Ellington's classic, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" has been a favorite of many vocalists over the years. With a loose bluesy feel to it, Baker's sense of fun and swing, along with fine solo's from the band contribute to this timeless melody. Laid back, and relaxed, Baker and her group capture the meaning and feel of the tune in such a sincere manner.

Baker's touching tribute to Charlie Parker ("Parker's Mood") is performed with so much love and honor. Using dialogue throughout, mixed in with a blues like delivery are a joy to listen to. Again, the band shines with a cohesive sound well suited to Baker's voice. This rendition is certainly one of the many highlights of the evening. Just listen to the response from the audience.

It's time to swing and swing hard. The anticipation of the crowd and Baker's gruff stylings make Real Gone Guy a standout. O'Neill plays with such ferocity and drive ceasing the moment before Jones and Osabe take off with swinging solos. The party is reaching a fever pitch. The audience approval is evident. Joy is in the air.

Winding up the evening with a gospel inflected version of "Oh Happy Day," Baker introduces the members of the band. Her rich voice inspires, turning the song into a festive occasion. A perfect tune to end a perfect concert.

There are some musicians you just have to see and hear live to capture the full spirit and raison d'etre. Margie Baker is one of those people. On this given night, Baker did what most well seasoned performers do, and that's to connect with the audience with songs that invoke a spirit of love and happiness. Margie Baker And Friends Live lives up to this many times over. With well deserved respect from the audience and musicians alike, Baker is able to focus on what she does best and that is sing.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Margie Baker
  • CD Title: Margie Baker and Friends Live
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: CAP
  • Rating: Five Stars
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