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Artist Statement

BOB BALDWIN BIOGRAPHY NEW YORK - Mount Vernon, NY native Bob Baldwin is unquestionably an unsung hero when it comes to the Contemporary/Smooth Jazz genre. Why, you say? Every year brings excitement to the Baldwin Musical house, and this year is no different. After receiving the blessings from the estate of Pop icon Michael Jackson in February, 2010, his first release of the new decade (his 14th overall) is simply titled “Never Can Say Goodbye”, a tribute to Michael Jackson (release date: 6/22/10), which showcases the harmonic sophistication of some of Jackson’s works from the 70’s – 90’s. “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. Baldwin was the Curator of the NewUrbanJazz @ the Arts xChange in White Plains, NY, with the blessings of Arts Westchester, 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.” 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. 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 4 discs still mange to reach 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) “”, 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 w/ 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 it's 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. HOW IT ALL BEGAN…. Bob Baldwin was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. His father, Robert Baldwin, Sr., 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 like 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, 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 1986 he formed the The Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project in New Rochelle, NY. The 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: Spyrogyra, 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. In 1989, Bob met Herbie Hancock at his Sony Innovators performance in Beverly Hills in 1989, which also inspired him during his own formative years. 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, Brazilian Percussion Cafe' Da Silva on previous recordings over the years. 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, "" fuses jazz, funk with vocals. It also launched his new radio show on WJZZ in 2008, which allowed to 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. Fortunately, this journeyman was blessed to be taught to play the piano by his father (Robert Baldwin Sr.). Meanwhile, we should seriously consider his musical influences as a youngster with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea, EWF, Joe Sample and Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis and George Duke, as their voicings can distinctively be heard in his music. Yes, it’s obvious this cast of prominent players had a profound impact on Baldwin’s musical journey. "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 don’t be so quick to give things up that may have value over time.  Bob's 2000 creation, Bob his first big independent undertaking but proved to be inspiring.  On 2/0/01, his position on the Billboard Contemporary Chart was #17, which was it's peak. 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, moving over 60,000 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 (soon to be re-titled) 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 includes, "Welcome to the Games", "Freedom Parkway", "Dreamin' the Dream" and "Downtown Underground".  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. Baldwin draws his musical strengths from his spiritual source.  "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 daily". 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." The journey continues, indeed.

Educational Background