Jeffrey Reid Baker: Biography
I was born on Long Island New York and have lived here my whole life. My father was a professional musician (trumpet) who played with Danny Kay and Bob Crosby among others. My grandmother was an amateur pianist. These early musical influences lead me to sit at the piano and make things up. I began formal training at the age of 10 studying with David Hudson Smith, a local pianist & organist. My grandfather, Frederick Charles Ehlert, radio editor for the New York Sun, was another influence on me. He was up on all the current technologies and impressed that on me very decisively.
I gained a bit of national media attention in the late 1980s for several albums I produced for Newport Classics. I am considered a pioneer in the use of keyboards and computers which, at the time, were generally confined to producing “pop music”. From 1986-1990, I produced four cross-over classical albums - Lisztronique*, Rhapsody In Electric Blue*, Carmina Burana Synthesized, and Everyone's Favorite Synthesizer Pieces*. (* are now available on JRB Records as JRB CD-9002, 9003, 9004). They received very positive reviews at the time from major publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Stereo Review, Digital Audio, and USA Today among others. They were also featured in both the BMG and Columbia House record clubs in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
During the 1990s, I went to work for an Atlanta-based corporation and spent several years involved with all genres of music production including soundtracks, new-age, big band, ragtime and classical. It was a hoot of a time, letting me loose on almost every conceivable project one could imagine.
One of the projects was called “Classical impressions of Christmas”. I had done 2 volumes before the company ran into some issues and went out of business. So, in the spring of 1996, I started my own audio production company - JRB Records - and the Christmas project became “A Composer’s Christmas” - JRB’s first release and one of its biggest selling records - over 100,000 sold. In 1999, JRB released a Rachmaninoff CD containing the Third Piano Concerto in its 2-Piano form (only recording), and my arrangement of the Cello Sonata for two-pianos (world premiere). It received outstanding reviews.
In the year 2000, I was asked by the Musicland/Sam Goody chain if I would produce a “Scott Joplin Greatest Hits” album. for them. For a while, it was their biggest selling ragtime album in the chain. Since then, the Grand Russian Fantasy and Fingerbreakers have been released on JRB. My Concrete Jungle album is my own first personal foray into the world of contemporary instrumental music. I'm now working on a collection of my own original compositions.
From 2017 to now, I've been involved, much to my own astonishment, in writing books! That is explained in the Author section of this website.
I have been teaching piano and composition for over 50 years to students ranging in age from 5 to 75. One of my favorite pastimes as a teacher, over the last 10 years especially, has been to create music for all piano levels, particularly composing for the beginning levels.
Who are my greatest musical influences ? While I steer away from answering that seriously, here are some personalities that I think sneak into my musical consciousness occasionally. Maurice Ravel, L. V. Beethoven, Andre Previn, Claude Debussy, George Gershwin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Billy Joel, Franz Liszt, David Benoit, Frederic Chopin, Don Shirley, Charles V. Alkan, Dick Hyman, Edvard Grieg, George Shearing, Peter Tchaikovsky, Scott Joplin, and Michel Legrand.
My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
My favorite movie is Inherit The Wind (1960 version)
My favorite piece of music is Maurice Ravel's Concerto in D for Left Hand.
There. I said it.
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