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Bob Baldwin, live - Augsburg, Germany - Photo: Sascha Brezina
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SHORT BIO - by A. Scott Galloway (To see extended bio, scroll down) Bob Baldwin Biography 2015 Across a career for which a two decade milestone was achieved in 2013 with his twentieth CD Twenty, Bob Baldwin has proven to be one of the most ubiquitous and ingenious chameleons of Contemporary Jazz - both in his own projects and those he has endeavored upon for others. Recently, he has twice honored the canons of giants: Never Can Say Goodbye: A Tribute to Michael Jackson (2010) and Betcha By Golly Wow: The Songs of Thom Bell (2012). For 2015, Baldwin turns to the sprawling catalog of Stevie Wonder one of his finest projects ever: MelloWonder: Songs in the Key of Stevie – an unprecedented one-from-the-heart that has taken him two years to lovingly assemble. MelloWonder is 14 songs -12 covers and two originals – primarily featuring Baldwin on a battery of ivories, keyboards and synthesizers along with special guests that include saxophonists Ryan Kilgore (currently a member of Stevie’s Wonderlove band) and Najee, and flautist Regan Whiteside. Highlights include “Creepin’,” “Lately,” “Love’s Light in Flight,” “You and I” and “Rocket Love.” In addition to his work as a musician, Bob Baldwin hosts a nationally syndicated weekly radio show ('The NewUrbanJazz Lounge' broadcast across the African American Public Radio Service and the Internet) and author of the music biz E-book “You Better Ask Somebody (Staying On Top of Your Career in the ‘Friggin’ Music Business)” (2011). Bob Baldwin [born Robert Garfield Baldwin, Jr. in Mt. Vernon, New York] is a jazz artist, composer, keyboardist, producer, arranger, radio host and author. His father, Robert Garfield Baldwin Sr. who recorded one solo LP under his leadership, played piano with bassists Keter Betts and Art Davis. Bob’s cousin is renowned pianist Larry Willis so he clearly stems from musical excellence. Bob began being taught piano by his father at age 4. His musical influences include Herbie Hancock, Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea, Earth Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis, Stevie Wonder and the late, greats Joe Sample, Miles Davis and George Duke. In 1986, he formed The Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project in New Rochelle, NY, performing at the legendary club the Bottom Line in New York City, opening up for Tom Browne of “Funkin’ for Jamaica” fame, and this led to his first production effort with trumpeter Tom Browne on a gospel-jazz offering entitled “No Longer I”. In addition to plum sideman work complimenting the likes of singers Phil Perry and Will Downing, and the late, legendary instrumentalists Grover Washington, Jr. and Noel Pointer, The Dream Featuring Bob Baldwin released a concept project in 1988, prophetically titled I've Got a Long Way to Go on Malaco Jazz, and that led to Bob meeting his heroes Roberta Flack and Herbie Hancock at a Sony Innovators ceremony in Beverly Hills. Bob was selected by the aforementioned Flack from over 300 applicants and that led to an eventual signing by then President Sylvia Rhone to the Atlantic Jazz label. He released Rejoice (1990) and Reflections of Love (1992) featuring Lenny White, Will Downing, Marion Meadows, and James Robinson, among others. A third album for Atlantic Jazz, State of Mind was recorded in 1994 but never released due to the shuttering of the label. “I remember that day like it was yesterday, sitting in the office talking to the suits on Dec 1, 1992, watching the Christmas tree outside the Atlantic office window, being lifted up at the Rockefeller Center in New York, getting the bad news about the label. That’s when I really started my track about recording independently.” By the time of Bob’s 20th release, Twenty, fans witnessed him pay homage to the legends while staying a step ahead of whatever was hot-n-happening in the era. A choice selection of those 20+ highlights is as follows: 2000’s bobbaldwin.com was his first independent release on City Sketches Records through the notorious Orpheus Records (Charles Huggins) featuring Gerald Albright, Marion Meadows and Armstead Christian. 2002’s dual releases Standing Tall and The American Spirit on Narada and Shanachie Records were cathartic and ultimately triumphant artistic reactions to the tragic events surrounding the World Trade Center on 9/11 2001, where he performed there just two months prior. 2004’s Brazil Chill was inspired by six weeks spent in Rio de Janiero and Ipanema, and featured Ivan Conti and Alex Malheiros of the acclaimed trio Azymuth, Armando Marcal, Café Da Silva, Andriano Giffoni, Leo Gandelman, Toquarto Mariano, and pianist Marcos Ariel (who played chorinho flute). 2005 delivered an extra shot of his Brazil experience with “All in a Day’s Work”. 2007 brought the release of his DVD “Live from Croton on the Hudson,” NY, an outdoor festival that drew over 6,000 people overlooking the beautiful Hudson River. 2008’s NewUrbanJazz.com fused Jazz and Funk with vocals, and featured Jocelyn Brown, Frank McComb, Phil Perry and Freddie Jackson. A 2011 follow-up 2011’s NewUrbanJazz.com 2 / Re-Vibe featured Glenn Jones and Porter Carroll, Jr. 2009’s Lookin' Back reflected on his career back to his first recordings going back to 1988. Baldwin also released the gospel-jazz missive Never Out of Season and the holiday offering The Gift of Christmas. Beyond his sprawling catalog of recordings, Bob Baldwin has used music to support social causes and to give back to the community. His internet-only release City Sketches - a disc privately released commemorating the 1996 Olympics - is a musical portrait of the city of Atlanta celebrating the city’s unique history. Violinist Regina Carter so loved "Downtown Underground" that she in turn recorded it on her CD, Something for Grace. Baldwin performed for the athletes at Atlanta's Olympic Games and shared the stage with Roy Ayers and Chuck Loeb at the Club Benson and Hedges Music Festival. Then in 2000, he travelled to South Africa with Marion Meadows for a historical concert. Baldwin was the Curator of the NewUrbanJazz @ the Arts Exchange in White Plains, NY. Collaborating with ArtsWestchester and the White Plains Youth Bureau, Baldwin presented a workshop that would prepare young people for a career in music. In 2010, his Jazz for Haiti program raised over $60,000.00 for the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. And in 2013 he produced the benefit concert "Music for Dave" to assist Latin Jazz legend and stroke victim, flautist Dave Valentin, with funding for his ongoing treatment and rehabilitation. He reached out to Larry Rosen, the original GRP Records owner, who signed Valentin to his first deal, who contributed to the event. Wedding his many talents to a fierce streak of conscious independence, Bob Baldwin sees himself as more than just an artist but a human being in control of his destiny and with a legacy of artistic benevolence to pass on. =============== EXTENDED BIO Baldwin, Bob [Robert Garfield Baldwin, Jr.], piano, keyboards, producer; b. Mt. Vernon, NY. He was born at Mt. Vernon Hospital. Family cousin is pianist Larry Willis. His father is Robert Garfield Baldwin Sr., 5/22/1926. Born in Mt. Vernon, NY. Played piano with bassists Keter Betts and Art Davis as well as Westchester County local musicians Carmen Leggio and Jimmy Hill (Saxophonists). Got sick in 1974, when he was in his 40's prior to embarking his only solo recording. The surviving Baldwin is a Jazz Artist, Radio Host and Music Presenter, and Author. He is an unsung hero when it comes to the Contemporary/Smooth Jazz genre and is on the move, and that's mainly due to his ability to march to a different drum…without compromise. "Being independent means better equity opportunities long-term, something I can pass on to my family when it is all said and done", says Baldwin. "It's not a new concept, but this is something I wish more artists took ownership of as I think it's key developing a CAREER in the business." His recordings have included such greats as Grover Washington, Jr. Phil Perry, Will Downing, Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows and Noel Pointer, to name a select few. His distributors are well respected in the business including Atlantic Records, WEA, Ryko, Sony Red and EMI, so he suggests that you don't take the 'independent' tag too lightly. His experience is paying off. His latest release, simply titled, "Twenty" marks his 20th release as a solo artist, which began in 1988 with the clever title, "I've Got a Long Way to Go" on Malaco Jazz. Before he retires, he'd like to record as many as 40 discs. The album (released 08/20/13) features classics by Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard and has debuted at #13 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz and has supplanted itself in the top 5 at Amazon Smooth Jazz since it's release, and reached #3 on the Billboard Jazz Charts in June, 2014. Prior to "Twenty", His 19th disc, "Betcha By Golly Wow" with Peak Records, tributing the great Thom Bell, Philadelphia Songwriter legend and Music Producer, (who is known for being one of the creators of the Philadelphia sound for groups like The Stylistics and the Spinners, features Paul Taylor, Russ Freeman, Vivian Green, and Flutist Ragan Whiteside. TAKING TIME TO HELP In between time, with a vision to take his gift of music to bless those less fortunate, and raise funds for organizations in need of help, he has produced such events as 2010's "Jazz for Haiti", and "Music For Dave" (For flautist Dave Valentin) in 2013. Baldwin continues to blaze trails on the musical humanitarian front with his return to the ArtsWestchester for a fifth season as Curator of the NewUrbanJazz Series. The series will feature extraordinary artists from Westchester County, Hiroshi Yamazaki Quartet (Pianist Extraordinaire), Vaneese Thomas (Legendary Vocalist), The Tony Jefferson Quartet (Jazz Vocal Standards), and The John Patitucci Trio (Award-Winning Bassist). The program was developed with the goal to showcase Westchester's great talent pool, using artists that tour the world as soloist, or with other great artists like Chick Corea or the Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin...in other words, famous by association, and highly regarded by the best in the industry. GOSPEL- JAZZ - MUSIC FOR THE SOUL December 2011 was also busy. His Gospel-Jazz offering "Never Out of Season" remains an iTunes hit and is a collection of hymns, gospel classics, and seasonal songs with a touch of the Baldwin re-harmonic vibe…you know, that special twist. Baldwin says “I wanted to put together a project that could be played all year round, not just the holidays. It’s a constant rework of our souls and spirits, as well as a testimony of my own personal life and my personal relationship with God. God has been good to me and blessed me with a wonderful talent. I look to Him daily for direction and strength and give Him thanks." His Gospel influences are Tramaine Hawkins, Helen Baylor, Yolanda Adams, and Vickie Winans. "When you sing from God's soul, you ultimately save souls." Hence, the feeling you get from Baldwin's passionate playing comes from his spiritual source. YOU BETTER ASK SOMEBODY The need to pass the torch on to the next generation moved Bob Baldwin to become an author. Bob Baldwin released his first book on December 13, 2011: You Better Ask Somebody! Staying On Top Of Your Career in the “Friggin” Music Business, which has been distributed in eBook form for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader. The eBook, created for high school and college level students, explains how aspiring musicians can create a successful career path and make a name in the industry while maintaining their integrity. It's also a refresher course for veteran artists and a manager’s reference guide to improve their own work ethic. The book will eventually be turned into a handbook, as Bob will be going into the schools and universities to work with students. “As I have ventured to many parts of the world, I thought it would be a tragedy NOT to document it in a book on how to help young artists find early footing in a very tricky music business climate,” says Baldwin who will be collaborating more and more with colleges, universities, and local school systems. Bob Baldwin. along with saxophonist Marion Meadows, and special guest drummer, Poogie Bell kicked off the beginning of the Labor Day Weekend at the Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis, Maryland. Jazz lovers were treated to an evening of Jazz as Baldwin, Meadows, and Bell brought down the house. August 2011 sizzled with Bob Baldwin and Friends performing at The Theodore D. Young Community Center for an evening of jazz. Baldwin and Friends played music from his latest CD NewUrbanJazz.com 2 / Re-Vibe along with a number of tunes from previous albums. The free concert provided an evening of cool jazz on a hot summer evening. On July 2011, Baldwin released his 16th CD NewUrbanJazz.com 2 / Re-Vibe on Trippin’ N Rhythm Records. The CD which debuted on Billboard Jazz at #14 features Glenn Jones, Darren Rahn, Ragan Whiteside, Joey Sommerville, along with Atlantic Starr legend Porter Carroll, Jr. The reviews have been positive nonetheless. Amazon’s Editorial Review stated: “Bob Baldwin s nationally syndicated radio program 'The NewUrbanJazz Lounge' now airs on over 21 radio stations in 10 states and is broadcast across the African American Public Radio Service and the Internet to a weekly audience of over a million listeners. This becomes the perfect vehicle to introduce the next volume in his highly popular and bestselling series NewUrbanJazz.com aptly titled, NewUrbanJazz.com 2 /Re-Vibe. Over more than two decades and 16 records, Bob Baldwin has carved out and more than solidified his place as one of the chief progenitors of true urban jazz. When you listen to Baldwin’s cuts, more than just hearing, you feel them as he has long had a way of digging deep into your soul and touching that inner sweet spot. NUJ.com 2/ Re-Vibe showcases Baldwin in the thick of his element fusing funky Contemporary Jazz with Gospel, Hip-Hop and Brazilian all with a strong dose of heavy urban flavoring. Bob Baldwin fans will rejoice at the arrival of this his finest work to date and the early buzz on the streets indicates that this NewUrbanJazz.com 2/ Re-Vibe will re-invigorate not only his massive following, but also continue to build upon it.” MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE The unexpected and untimely death of Pop icon, Michael Jackson, on June 25, 2010 led Baldwin to contact the family to ask if he could honor the Pop icon with a tribute CD. After receiving the blessings from the estate of Michael Jackson in February, 2010, Baldwin released his first CD of the new decade (his 14th overall) simply titled Never Can Say Goodbye, a tribute to Michael Jackson. “At this point in my career, it’s really about taking my gifts and using them to help others, feed people, and develop people’s careers, giving them some valuable lessons in music along the way, as well as how to conduct yourself in a business setting, both on a local and national platform,” says Baldwin. Most recently, it’s been about creating programs that speak to these needs, as well as feeding the musical palettes of our incredible music audience, which has a double benefit. BRINGING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY Baldwin was the Curator of the NewUrbanJazz @ the Arts Exchange in White Plains, NY, with the blessings of ArtsWestchester, with the hopes that it will continue. “We had an incredible lineup of people, and the response from the community has been wonderful. It was a nice shot in the arm for Westchester residents.” The commitment to use his gift to help others led Bob Baldwin to take on the role of educator to present workshops that would pair young musicians with the pros. Collaborating with ArtsWestchester and the White Plains Youth Bureau, Baldwin presented a workshop that would prepare young people for a career in music. Baldwin stated “What we wanted to do is create a music theater piece that also featured a workshop element,” he said, “so that the people that were on stage were allowed to share their experiences on the road in terms of the music business and musical experience with some young kids and try to implant some new seeds so that the torch can be passed.” 2010 also brought forth the desire to produce two shows on behalf of Haiti. Westchester Musicians for Haiti was able to bring together some of the cream of the Westchester crop under one musical umbrella to raise some funds for the Arthur Schweitzer Hospital in Deshapeles, Haiti. He also produced the Jazz for Haiti, which featured a different blend of Contemporary and Latin Jazz at the Newark Symphony Hall (Chieli Minucci, Dave Valentin, Ruben Rodriguez, Chembo Corniel, and up and coming shining stars like Ragan Whiteside, to name a few), raising awareness of the tragedies of Haiti and shining some light on the American Red Cross, who has assisted tremendously in that region. His Jazz for Haiti program raised over $60,000.00 for the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. Although he has been running his production company since 1997, Baldwin has released 5 records on 5 different labels since 2000. With labels collapsing and going out of business more now than ever, his last 5 discs have managed to make the Billboard top 10 Contemporary Jazz. The pianist tries to never allow his business acumen go to waste. He independently produced his CD (distributed through the powerful Virgin/EMI Network) Bobbaldwin.com, which sold an impressive 60,000 units. He also used his business skills to develop and negotiate his recording deals with upstart labels 215 Records, NuGroove Records as well as Narada Jazz, all of which have since gone under. His radio program NewUrbanJazz Lounge with Bob Baldwin is changing the sound of Contemporary Jazz in the midst of the debilitating hierarchy that is Smooth Jazz, which has lost over 18 stations in the last 20 months. The radio show covers Contemporary Jazz going back to the 70's, which helps secure its legacy, but also brings to light new artists and fuses Urban and Brazilian flavors. It's the perfect fix for Contemporary Jazz fans from all walks of life, and later this year, look for an all out Internet blitz for the new programming. BACK IN THE DAY... Bob Baldwin was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. His father, Robert Baldwin, Sr., was also an accomplished jazz pianist and upright bassist in his own right. Dad’s brief pianist career included working with Keter Betts (Ella Fitzgerald’s main bassist) and Art Davis (the last bassist for the legendary John Coltrane), both Westchester residents. Little Bobby Baldwin used to go to his dad’s jam sessions around county and studied the masters of the Westchester region, such local stars as Lou Derry, Jimmy Hill, Fred Smith, Carmen Leggio, and others. Fortunately, this journeyman was blessed to be taught to play the piano by his father at age 4. Meanwhile, we should seriously consider his musical influences as a youngster with the likes of the aforementioned Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea, EWF, Joe Sample, Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis, and George Duke. His musical voicings are a by-product of these artists. Yes, it’s obvious this cast of prominent players made a profound impact on Baldwin’s musical journey. Even after studying accounting, business and broadcasting in college, he never strayed far from his first love. In 1987, Sony founded the Innovator's Awards, an annual ceremony to award aspiring Afro-American artists who have shown outstanding talent in music and the visual arts. In his opening speech at the first ceremony held in 1988, music producer Quincy Jones stated that it was encouraging that a large firm like Sony was providing Afro-American artists a chance to be introduced to the entire nation. In 1989, his first CD, a concept record under the artist name The Dream Featuring Bob Baldwin. That record would eventually lead him to meet the legendary Herbie Hancock at a Sony Innovators ceremony in Beverly Hill in 1989. As one of his childhood idols, the meeting with Hancock inspired him during his own formative years, and even today. He was selected from over 300 applicants, including the group Straight Ahead out of Detroit. Singer/Songwriter/Musician Roberta Flack was the finalist judge. Both Baldwin and Flack would eventually sign to Atlantic Jazz in the early 1990’s. It was there Baldwin recorded Rejoice and Reflections Of Love. The albums featured luminaries like Poogie Bell, Lenny White, Marion Tom Browne, James Robinson, Noel Pointer, Freddy V (Average White Band), to name a select few. In 1986 he formed The Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project in New Rochelle, NY. The Baldwin/Orlo Project performed at the legendary Bottom Line in New York City leading to his first production with trumpeter Tom Browne. This opportunity led to his first album and eventually to his two-album deal with Atlantic Jazz Records. The Project also proved to be a stepping stone for other band members. Many went on to work as instrumentalist men for some of the most popular jazz and pop bands in the world including: Spyro Gyra, Michel Camilo, Paul Simon, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, The Silos, The Average White Band, The Temptations, Ben E. King, the Broadway play Momma Mia, and Chick Corea. With Baldwin's natural ability to weave life's experience into music while creating inventive harmonies, he doesn't really need to fill his releases with high-powered guest appearances. However, he has used the likes of Roy Ayers, Gerald Albright Dean James, Jeff Kashiwa, Dave Mann, Chieli Minucci, Phil Perry, Jocelyn Brown, Kim Waters, Will Downing, Marion Meadows, Najee, Jocelyn Brown, the late Grover Washington, Jr., and Noel Pointer, Tito Puente alumni Ray Vega, and Brazilian Percussion Cafe' Da Silva on previous recordings. ALBUM NUGGETS His 2009 release, Lookin' Back is a reflection of his career, dating back to his first recordings of 1988 and features Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows, Will Downing, Grover Washington, Jr., and Tom Browne. "On Lookin' Back’ I hope the career has a sense of consistency and longevity, but musically, I must note that my voice is not nearly complete," says Baldwin. His 2008 release, NewUrbanJazz.com fused Jazz, and Funk with vocals. It also launched his new radio show on WJZZ in 2008, which allowed the program to grow from there. The 2008 offering features Jocelyn Brown, Phil Perry, Freddie Jackson, Marion Meadows, Najee, Frank McComb, and Atlanta stars Joey Sommerville and Toni Redd. 2007 brought the release of his live DVD from Croton on the Hudson, NY, home of the largest Contemporary Jazz Festival in Westchester County, NY, 20 miles north of the Hudson. His 2005 release All In A Days Work on 215 Records was certainly no departure from his winning formula as a composer, arranger keyboardist, and producer. His trip to Brazil was life-changing as he has since woven his Brazilian-Latin influences in most of his music from that day forth. “Spending six weeks in Rio and Ipanema allowed me to feel the spirit of the people and get into their music and their beautiful aura,” says Baldwin. The end result is the Brazil Chill disc of 2004 (a440 Records) and featured Brazil hipsters Ivan Conte and Alex Malheiros of the group Azymuth, Armando Marcal, Café Da Silva, Andriano Giffoni, Leo Gandelman, Toquarto Mariano, and Pianist Marcos Ariel, who played chorinho flute on the disc. "Like everyone else, the events in September 2001 moved my soul and impacted me tremendously. From that point, it felt necessary to write music that says 'be proud of who you are, stand up for what you believe, and do what you love, and that tomorrow is not granted to any of us. Art does imitate life and vice versa, so live your life to the fullest... today," Bob urges. In 2002, he produced two discs, Standing Tall and The American Spirit. In 1999, I sat with Grover Washington, Jr. and chatted about the business of music, and he urged me to take a stab at controlling my recording catalog and not to be so quick to give things up that may have value over time. Bob's 2000 creation, Bob Baldwin.com his first big independent undertaking proved to be inspiring. On 2/01/01, his position on the Billboard Contemporary Chart was #17, which was its peak. BobBaldwin.com features the awesome talents of Gerald Albright, Marion Meadows, Armsted Christian, Dean James, Eric Essix, and Tom Browne, to name a few. Baldwin's touch on "Funkin' For Jamaica" is world class, as he dedicates that tune to the aforementioned Washington, Jr., who was supposed to perform on the tune before his untimely death. It is Bob's second CD on this new independent label, which he founded in 1996. This CD is his most popular in his catalog, with reported sales of over 70,000 units. In 1997, Cool Breeze, which was on the Shanachie Records label, garnered tremendous radio success on the Gavin Smooth Jazz charts. It featured the hit single, "Summer Breeze," featuring saxophonist Marion Meadows and Larry Coryell on guitar. His 1996 Internet release, City Sketches (a privately released disc during the 1996 Olympics) is a musical portrait of the city of Atlanta, Ga., and is on his label, City Sketches, Inc.™ A commemorative celebration of Atlanta's unique history, some of the titles on this jazz composition include "Welcome to the Games," "Freedom Parkway," "Dreamin' the Dream," and "Downtown Underground.” Then Atlantic Jazz labelmate violinist Regina Carter liked "Downtown Underground" so much that she used it on her latest LP, Something for Grace. Baldwin's highlight for the 1997 season was performing at the legendary Montreux Music Festival in Atlanta (9/97) where he shared the stage with an Atlanta based ensemble (Blake Gaines on bass and Forrest Robinson on drums), as well as his friend and AWB member saxophonist Fred Vigdor. Baldwin also performed for the athletes at Atlanta's 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and shared the stage with Roy Ayers and Chuck Loeb in front of hundreds at the Club Benson and Hedges Music Festival in 11/96 and 5/97. Baldwin also went to South Africa with Marion Meadows in the fall of 2000. In 1994 State of Mind was recorded, but never released due to the eventual closing of Atlantic Jazz, and today, it sits on the mantle hopefully to be released in this decade. Previous discs include the aforementioned I’ve Got A Long Way To Go (1988-Malaco), Rejoice and Reflections of Love (1990 and 1992, respectively) on Atlantic Jazz. The journey continues, indeed.