[4 May 2008]
One of the most important figures in jazz history, Charles Mingus made his name by adroitly transforming the double bass into a prominent, melodic instrument. Though exploring different stylistic territory, New Hampshire native Nat Baldwin similarly features the double bass, employing it as a primary means of accompaniment for his quasi-avant-garde dabbling in chamber pop, folk and indie genres. With a delicate, ethereal voice and a knack for creating dramatic combinations of tones, Baldwin’s tunes sound like a more tripped-out take on the work of artists like Ryan Groff or Jeff Buckley, with whom he’s been compared. Tracks like “The Felled Trees”, “De-attached”, and “Lake Erie” showcase both the best of Baldwin and the most complete examples of his sound. Baldwin receives major points for style and innovation, but occasionally does so at the expense of tunefulness and palatability. One set of values doesn’t have to be shelved to make room for another and when Baldwin’s work consistently recognizes this, his talent should have an even greater chance for display.