One of the great things about working at WFIU is having David Baker stop by occasionally for appearances on Joe Bourne’s weekday afternoon program “Just You and Me”. As busy as he is, he’s always been incredibly generous with his time, and I’m always grateful for any chance to speak with him. He’s full of stories, insights, and good will; a few minutes in his presence and you’ll understand why he’s been such a successful jazz educator.
David came in today to chat about the inauguration concert for Indiana University president Michael McRobbie that he’ll be conducting Sunday night in Bloomington. He had an armful of notes with him; turns out he’s writing an addendum for the forthcoming Quincy Jones Mosaic set (the booklet is being written by Brian Priestley). David says the set will be out soon. I collared him for some comments about Don Ellis (to be included in an early-December Night Lights program) and also asked about potential unreleased sides from the records that he made with George Russell. Definitely some alternative takes, according to David…he also alluded to an unreleased Riverside session that set my discographical antennae a-twitching. He also mentioned a Russell date that started out in the morning with Jaki Byard on piano. “Now Jackie was a great pianist,” David said, “but he couldn’t read too well. George didn’t say anything, but I could tell he wasn’t happy with the way things were going. We went out to lunch, and when I came back at 1 p.m., Jaki was gone and there was Bill Evans sitting in the piano chair!”