On Look What I Found, Seattle denizen Tom Baker and his quartet play an edgy, risk-taking, diverse sort of modern jazz that is informed by various types of avant-classical and rock musics. Those stylistic parameters alone are enough to grab my interest. The originality of the compositions (mostly by Baker and bassist Brian Cobb) plus the stunningly high quality of the playing and group improvising throughout Look What I Found make it one of my favorite listens of the past several months.
Baker’s guitar is unmistakably jazz-based, as his solos on ‘Grace’, and ‘Anton and Louis’ will attest. His ghostly harmonics on ‘Through a Glass Abstractly’ and his heavily distorted, metallic tone on ‘Metamorphosis Happens’ suggests he’s been listening to Sonny Sharrock and Ray Russell as well. Clarinetist Jesse Canterbury gets an equal share of the solo space on "Look What I Found" and uses it to identify himself as one of the best new improvising clarinetists around. Possessing a round, woody tone and an agile, quick-witted technique, Canterbury’s relaxed approach and limitless well of ideas provide numerous highlights throughout this CD. Bass and percussion are handled with intelligence and ease by Brian Cobb and Greg Campbell - both add dimension and space to the music with their creative and innovative playing.
Many of the compositions on Look What I Found have a formality and meditative quiet that I normally associate with chamber music. Even so, the relentless forward motion that characterizes the best jazz is always palpable. Nearly every track features a nicely conceived trapdoor moment, where the listener falls into a completely unexpected musical landscape after the initial mood is established. They can get funky and nasty, as well, and several tracks have a more aggressive, gritty sound - rather like Junk Genius. There’s also a warmth and humanity throughout Look What I Found that sets Baker’s music apart from that of so many other similarly-inclined ensembles. Not content to be another ECM or Knitting Factory sound-alike, Baker and his band have clearly given their music a lot of thought and come up with a winning non-formula. Look What I Found is a CD well worth seeking out. A delight from start to finish!