THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL - March 23, 2011
Baggett to play solo guitar gig at London's
By Bill Blankenship
Lawrence-based musician Brian Baggett will perform a solo guitar concert from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at London's live jazz cafe, 115 S.E. 6th.
Brian Baggett, one of the Midwest's in-demand guitarist, will perform a solo show Thursday night at his hometown's jazz club, London's. He will perform from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the downtown Topeka club at 115 S.E. 6th in the former Hillmer's Luggage storefront.
Baggett, 35, grew up in Topeka where he began playing as a youngster and started teaching guitar when he was just 18. He continues to do so as a private instructor, jazz clinician and as an adjunct professor of guitar and jazz studies at Ottawa University.
He also has played in a number of groups over the years, including the Lawrence-based fusion/rock band Einstein Electric, which garnered critical acclaim, played at major music festivals and shared the stage with major acts like the Jerry Garcia Band and Galactic.
Currently, the Lawrence-based Baggett can be heard performing with Ken Lovern's O.J.T. (Organ Jazz Trio) and his own trio, DOJO, as well as solo shows and as a sideman with other players.
Baggett has been profiled by JAM Magazine, which described him as "one of the most gifted and lyrical guitarist to claim a KC connection in recent years," and by Guitar Player magazine, which said "Baggett's incredible guitar playing falls somewhere between (Allan) Holdsworth and Alex Lifeson, yet with a sound of its own."
Samples of Baggett's sound can be found on his website at www.brianbaggettband.com.
Bill Blankenship can be reached at (785) 295-1284 or email@example.com.
GUITAR CHANNEL - June, 2009
DOJO Studiojo review by Rich Murray
Dojo is a Kansas-based fusion trio featuring guitarist Brian Baggett, bassist Chris Handley, and drummer Luke Stone. Much of their music has the shimmery chord-plus-Holdsworthian shred approach that many other "local" fusion bands tend to have. I've heard several of these types of bands over the years, but as much as I love that style of music, it's often hard to tell one of these bands from another. Dojo, however, is possibly the most distinctive band of this ilk I've yet heard. What sets them apart is their overall melodic sense - Dojo's writing has a tunefulness that most other bands in the genre either don't have, or perhaps shy away from. On their latest album Studiojo, every track is dripping with great melodies. There are plenty of high-tech chops on display here as well, no question, but the melodicism is what will grab you first.
Most of the Studiojo tracks are built around Baggett's clean chordal guitar parts, with heavier riffs coming in at times to beef things up. Overall, the writing (which is solely credited to Baggett) has a Steve Morse-meets-Bill Connors sort of vibe. Baggett's high-gain guitar tones are well defined without being too fuzzy, and his clean tones are just gorgeous. Possessing awesome picking and legato chops, Baggett has what I would call a rock-fusion style. The title track provides a good display of what he can really do from a technical standpoint. The solo on this tune starts with a highly legato approach, before shifting gears into some insane picking. I love the odd time grooves in this piece also, and the great drum solo Stone provides at the end. Another standout track is "Muscle Shirt," which opens with a cool intro reminiscent of Joe Satriani's "Midnight" before settling into an smooth groove. Handley and Baggett both take nice solos on this one. The band takes things out on the aptly titled "Demented," but even here among the trippy mood swings, cool melodies are the driving force. Another favorite of mine is "Fusion Blue" - great staccato chords, a melody that sticks on your head, and long solos from everyone.
"Something She Said" is the lone ballad, and it's yet another example of great writing. The contour and rhythmic structure of the melodies here were obviously well thought-out, resulting in one of the most memorable tunes on the album. The album closes with a great piece called "The Ball," which is augmented nicely by Ken Lovern on keys. There's a definite Eric Johnson influence on this song, but it reminded me of Carl Verheyen's work as well.
As someone who listens to a lot of jazz rock fusion music, it's rare that I hear many melodies on a given album that stick with me the way, for example, a great TV or movie theme does. It seems as though harmony and improvisation are higher priorities for most fusion artists. And that's ok - cool chords, great solos, heavy grooves; I expect and enjoy these traits from this style of music. What I don't expect is what I hear throughout Studiojo - a tangible focus on melody. This album clearly shows that Dojo's writing chops are just as impressive as their playing. Highly recommended.
Rich Murray, June 10 2009 guitar-channel.com
GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE - March 2006
Spotlight by Mike Varney
GUITARIST: Brian Baggett
STYLE : Fusion rock
INFLUENCES: Eddie Van Halen, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Alan Holdsworth, Shawn Lane
MAIN GUITAR: Modified wooden Steinberger
LOCATION: Lawrence, KS
BACKGROUND: Baggett started playing guitar at age 14, and later studied jazz improvisation and music theory at Washburn University and the University of Kansas. Baggett began teaching ten years ago, providing private instruction to local players, as well as being a guest artist and clinician at Washburn And Truman State Universities, and recently giving jazz improvisation workshops at the Americana Music Academy. Currently a member of the progressive fusion group Dojo, Baggett's incredible guitar playing falls somewhere between Holdsworth and Alex Lifeson, yet with a sound of its own. Baggett's recording of a live Dojo concert reveals his keen ability to solo over sophisticated changes employing both melody and flash.
CONTACT: bbagg7@gmail; brianbaggett.net
Mike Varney is a San Francisco Bay Area record producer and owner of Shrapnel, Blues Bureau, and Tone Center Records
ABSTRACT LOGIX - September, 2005
DOJO Place of the Way review by: DeVon Pierre Jackson
From the opening song entitled The Vine, Brian Baggett and DOJO immediately captivated me. With the use of an acoustic guitar and some Methenyesque coloring for the background, the melody created a perfectly painted picture of midwestern charm. The Vine is an excellent example of an easy-flowing groove that keeps you on your toes, with soulful soloing and comping.
The second song entitled Bad Song is where you'll find DOJO taking you on a mysterious journey. At first Brian Baggett solos beautifully over a lush chord progression, as drummer Luke Stone shines with some awe-inspiring cymbal work. Then DOJO turns the corner with a driving rhythm segment, which paves the way for some exciting exchanges with all three musicians. With a lead tone that has a hint of overdrive and shimmering chordal stabs, you'll find yourself unable to deny the song's pull.
My favorite song on the album is the third song entitled Good Morning. Those two words never sounded so good, powered by the vocal like melody of the main theme. Even though no words are spoken, you can actually hear good morning vocalized by the guitar, with a stroke of melodic genius. DOJO has a unique way of staying away from the predictable. By focusing on the song's inherent platform for heavy exploration, DOJO doesn't rely on cliched riffs and soloing. Brian Baggett gives you doses of Cream-Era Clapton intensity and then ups the ante by displaying lethal legato lines. The song ends with a masterful bass solo by Brad Maestas that shows his ability create tasteful tone and touch.
The playful beginning of Lunch Time is a nice balance to the scorching come-hither offering that's to come. The rhythm section fills in all the right places with a powerful performance. The listener is treated to Brian's sax-like lines that could go on for days coupled with an unbelievable emotional depth that's usually reserved for guitarist twice Brian's age!!!
Number 5 and Fun in Harmony finds the band dedicating itself to building deep churning grooves, that will cause many to play them on repeat mode. This template gives the songs texture, which rewards you with a different perspective every time you listen to them.
Perhaps the most thought provoking song is the last one entitled Improvisation 1. If you are looking for proof that Brian Baggett is a guitarist to remember, you can find it here. The song is just Brian alone with an acoustic guitar. A man alone with a piece of wood and some steel, that can take something so simple and deliver an intimate conversation, is something to behold. Improvisation 1, touches on American music at it's best. With its folk-blues leanings offering visions of life at it's most precious moments, is enough of a reason to purchase this CD.
Music that is visual, emotional, and spiritual, can lead us to places never imagined.
DOJO-Place of the Way is just that type of music. It will stay with you long after the music has ended.
JAZZ AMBASSADOR MAGAZINE - February, 2003
Guitars Galore by Tim Cross
Though his name may be new to some, Brian Baggett's recent
collaborations with bassist Bill McKemy, and his previous work with the Embius Trio, have people checking him out.
Originally from Topeka, Baggett gained his first experience in an improvisational rock band called Einstein Electric, which he formed while still in high school. As his interest in jazz grew, a natural progression from the music with which he was involved, he enrolled in Washburn University, played in the top jazz combo, and studied theory and improvisation with Chuck Tumlinson.
Before long, Baggett was practicing eight hours a day, seeking out veteran players like Rod Fleeman and Danny Embrey for lessons, and trying to find his voice, or "the soup," as he calls it.
"How many ingredients do you have in your soup? Just one? Or is it a dash of Scofield, a pinch of Martino, a sprinkling of Metheny, a taste of Wayne Shorter, and a hint of African music?"
His prime ingredient right now is Charlie Parker.
"I want to play saxophone on guitar. Alto sax is my favorite instrument."
He also admires Pat Martino, "for his touch and picking technique," and Jim Hall. "When you listen to Jim, it's like time slows down. It has taught me to be more thoughtful."
A dedicated individual who is still learning, Baggett approaches his playing with a deep sense of spirituality. As he puts it, "I am blessed to be musician."
Brian Baggett can be heard on Bill McKemy's current CD, Duende
Hotbands.com - October 2003
Brian Baggett Band - Lawrence, Kansas
The Web - CD review
By Patrick Ferris
Brian Baggett is a 27-year-old solo artist from Lawrence, Kansas. Coming from a background heavily influenced by jazz, Baggett has already performed with some of the world's top jazz musicians. His first solo effort The Web is a Rock Opera that spins the story of Dr. Awkward and his computer manifestation, Mr. E; a fictitious, but realistic portrayal of life in the computer age.The task of weaving a story into a rock-opera is, in itself, a monumental task, and I found The Web interesting, captivating and musically well crafted. Integration of ambient sound bites with appropriate arrangements suited to the lyrics creates a multi-dimensional musical experience. Much like Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Who's Tommy, The Web is a CD that needs to be listened to from beginning to end (preferably with headphones) to appreciate its full artistic scope. The Brian Baggett Band, assembled from members of the Midwest's most accomplished ensembles, will begin performing The Web this winter. An animated film to correspond with the live performances is currently being developed.
PITCH WEEKLY - April 2003
Brian Baggett Band
The Web (Self-released) Review by John Kreicbergs
The rock concept album is a fading artifact. Chalk it up to shrinking attention spans or the apathetic avoidance of anything that remotely resembles a movement toward art in popular culture. Yet for local guitarist Brian Baggett, it's a realm still ripe for musical exploration.
The Web is Baggett's first completely self-produced solo project, but it's certainly not his first foray into the studio. He appeared with area funk-jazz act the Yards on its eponymous debut as well as on local jazz bassist Bill McKemy's first solo release, Duende. Baggett's ability to cross genres with a striking sense of ease and maturity allows him to render the ambitious breadth and width of The Web remarkably palatable.
Weaving a tale of warning against the creeping dangers of modernity and the pitfalls of isolationism bred by technology, Baggett's Web doesn't stray far from the formulaic archetypes of Pink Floyd's The Wall, the Who's Tommy or even Styx's Kilroy Was Here. Baggett's cast of characters and caricatures is engaging, and the disc's central story line serves a useful roll in unifying The Web's eclectic musical offerings, but it's his healthy doses of acoustic folk, classic rock, electronica and contemporary jazz funk that truly give his creation life. It's a gutsy move for Baggett to dabble in a dying genre, but it could be the sort of gambit that garners him the attention he deserves.