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A Bit of Jazz and More by Margie Baker & Shota Osabe

Four decades ago jazz pianist Shota Osabe moved from Japan to San Francisco and was playing by himself in a Japanese restaurant when in walked music lover Margie Baker, a school district administrator, wife and mother. They got to talking and Baker regaled Osabe with stories about all the great jazz musicians from the Twenties through the Fifties. After a few more visits, Osabe convinced Baker to join him on-stage and sing a few numbers. They have been performing regularly ever since (although both also have their own careers and recordings). Now, finally after 40 years, they have made an album together.

This is exactly the kind of music you would expect to hear in a little jazz club somewhere. They cover jazz classics, Broadway standards, some blues, a bit of Jobim Brazilian material and even a Jim Croce tune, so I guess the CD title is fairly accurate. They don’t do anything earth-shaking. They just perform well-chosen material well. Sometimes that is enough. The arrangements are fairly standard, although Osabe occasionally inserts interesting instruments, especially his steel guitar. Baker must have been a power-house in her prime, but she still knows all the little nuances and how to tug on your heart. She sings ten tunes and Osabe steps forward with five instrumentals. These are not your typical jazz instrumentals with lots of improv soloing. They are almost Sixties-style pop instrumentals. For example, one is "Last Date" which was an instrumental hit by Nashville-sound-architect Floyd Cramer back in 1960. The bottom-line and end result is that this album sort of defies categorization and expectations. It is simply retro music that is enjoyable to listen to. There is nothing wrong with that. Your parents will probably enjoy it too.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Margie Baker & Shota Osabe
  • CD Title: A Bit of Jazz and More
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: CAP
  • Musicians: Margie Baker (vocals), Shota Osabe (piano, keyboards, steel guitar)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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