The Crystal Palace Brett Baker (Trombone) with John Wilson (pianoforte) reviewed by Gretchen McNamara for ITA Journal

It is no surprise that Brett Baker's artistry shines through this recording. Filled with technical mastery and beautiful expressivity, Baker in THE CRYSTAL PALACE, presents twelve solos, most of which are from around the turn of the century. Included are mostly unfamiliar composers and pieces, hence the subtitle, “and More Forgotten Trombone Solos.” That said, the character and nature of the works recorded are very familiar. Musical elements include beautiful lyrical melodies contrasting with virtuosic solo lines; dramatic, flourishing, and often arpeggiated cadenza; and a frequent lilting treatment of the pulse. Traditional forms include theme and variations like kind to the works of the better-known Arthur Pryor. As expected, the piano plays an important role beyond accompanying the trombone through exciting introductions and interludes.

Brett Baker's artistry and musicianship are exceptional in this recording. He partners well with accompanist John Wilson, who equally reflects a clear understanding of this repertoire through his performance. Baker's musical choices are intuitive and easy to follow, yet not so predictable that the listener is left uninterested. In fact, quite the opposite takes place. It is easy to be drawn in by the performance, wondering what will come next and being pleasantly surprised when it's unique and familiar at the same time. THE CRYSTAL PALACE will stand as a true demonstration of how to perform repertoire from this genre.

Grethen McNamara

Wright State University

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