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Kenny Baker

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British jazz musician Kenny Baker, of no relation to the important American country fiddler of the same name, began playing cornet in a local brass band when he was 12, following several years of piano lessons at home. By 18 he was gigging professionally with Lew Stone, and had headed for the big town of London like many a British jazzer from the hinterlands. This early stage of Baker's career also included gigs with artists such as Maurice Winnick, Sid Millward, and the famous orchestra leader Ambrose, the latter gig a great way to meet many other talented players interested in jazz at that time . From 1946 through the end of the decade, Baker worked as lead trumpeter and arranger for bandleader Ted Heath. He then began getting into soundtrack work, and can be heard on the scores to films such as Genevieve and The Red Shoes. He had his own group during this period entitled Baker's Dozen, but worked mostly in the more lucrative field of film and television scoring. Despite that he still had a high profile on the British jazz scene and won several Melody Maker polls. The trumpeter recorded on his own for labels such as Nixa, Polygon, and the British branch of Columbia, and also does some fine playing on Heath's Decca and London releases, especially and obviously the 1958 Spotlight on Sidemen. Baker remained active until he passed away in his late '70s. Obituaries in his native press described him as a "soloist, section man supreme, and leader." ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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01 March 1921 in Withernsea, Yorkshire, England

Years Active:

'30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s