Margie Baker & Friends,
Live at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
(Consolidated Artists, 2005)

Shades of a voice from Heaven sent to Earth to save us all -- Margie Baker has it. Captured by the first track, "Let the Good Times Roll," I couldn't turn the darn CD player off until I ran through both discs in this set. If this retired educator and professional singer were any more vibrant, she'd be the sun.

At 5:30 in the a.m. a lot of blues can sound good, but my, my, folks, this is a recording for any time. Her first CD recording was Live at Rassalas, which was never distributed nationally. This second one was recorded on a Sunday afternoon during a live performance at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society jazz club in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco.

This lady's positive aura radiates from the CD. The voice expressing that aura drives sassy jazz and puffs smokey blues into your soul. If she can't touch you with her mournful "Cry Me a River," you can't be touched.

Of course, she's backed by some wizard musicians: Rodney Jones, Harley White, Alan Steger, Omar Clay, Fred Berry, Michael O'Neill and Shota Osabe. And she knows when to hush up and let them play. "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" gets to the heart of how singer and band trade off to celebrate a song. Pete Douglas, host, and Sonny Buxton, emcee, bring it all together.

There are a few little rough spots when tracks end, but that's pissant compared to the beauty of this CD. The audience's hoots and hollers only add to the charm, especially since I wish I were sitting in their place. Sometime live recordings have that special something extra and it's all over this one. Though this is Margie Baker's first national recording, she's been singing professionally for over 30 years.

Her repertoire ranges from "Gimmie a Pigfoot" to "Close to You," from "Ain't it Funny How Time Slips Away" to "Alright, OK, You Win." Nevertheless, every song is stamped with her particular cache and her exquisite voice owns it.

Let's hope there's going to be more Margie Baker coming up on CD, because I want to hear a full rendition of "Oh Happy Day." The last track included thanks to the band, and not quite enough Baker. She's left us wanting more. I'm going out searching for a Live at Rassalas CD now. And nobody's getting my Live at the Bach. Go get your own.

by Virginia MacIsaac
25 March 2006

Buy it from