Jake Baldwin with his trumpet

Jake Baldwin lays down deep roots with Where You’re Planted

October 15, 2021  /  News

Where You’re Planted is the debut album as leader from Twin Cities based trumpeter and composer Jake Baldwin. Baldwin describes this album as a culmination of his musical experiences since moving to Minneapolis in 2013. The title came to him after hearing the Mary Engelbreit quote “Bloom where you’re planted.”

This means find the best things about where you’re at in life, both physically and metaphorically, then add your personality and soul. 

Where Baldwin has been planted is Minneapolis and becoming part of that scene has been a journey that has shaped him as a musician following his studies at New Eng- land Conservatory. The record taps into the regional jazz sound of the Twin Cities, in- fluenced by groups like the Bad Plus, Happy Apple, and Fat Kid Wednesdays, all of whom combine elements of folk, jazz, indie rock and free improvisation to make a sound that is unique to the Twin Cities and more broadly to the midwest.

Where Youre Planted places melody and song before virtuosity and technique (though the latter are heard throughout as well), resulting in a record that both his peers and his parents would enjoy. Baldwin’s compositions are realized and elevated by the superb musicianship of saxophonist Nelson Devereaux, bassist Ted Olsen, pianist Ted God- bout, and drummer Adam Harder-Nussbaum who collectively made a point to play weekly throughout the pandemic, forming a cohesive sound that is on full display on this auspicious debut which was recorded in just a matter of hours.

The album opens with unaccompanied trumpet, Baldwin’s way of introducing himself to the listener. Throughout the album, each player is given a space to improvise a solo piece. Rather than giving these pieces titles, they are simply named after the person who played them, like a signature. “Maps In A Mirror,” inspired by the Orson Scott Card short stories of the same name, is the first introduction to the full band sound. Af- ter an off kilter A section in 3/4 and a suddenly relaxed bridge, the tune features solos by Baldwin, Devereaux, and Olsen on electric bass.

There are 3 interludes on Where You’re Planted inspired by voice memos on Baldwin’s phone that were fragments he felt could stand alone. “Interlude 1” is a mere 39 sec- onds long and is based on a chord progression he wrote on a toy piano. “Interlude 2” gives each member of the band a space to play a short fill on bar 4 of the form before ending on a rather unexpected chord. “Interlude 3” is inspired by the feeling of sitting by a lake at night and hearing the water slowing come in and out. It’s just two chords that repeat at a rubato tempo with the feelings of each chord melting into the next.

Walking” is once again based on a voice memo on Baldwin’s phone where he sang this bassline at the tempo he was walking. Starting with a bass ostinato, trumpet and saxophone play the melody in unison and slowly begin to have a conversation around the two chord vamp, building energy slowly until new chords are introduced for a fan- tastic piano solo by Godbout. The final melody happens over a 3 bar vamp, growing to a crescendo until the tune is deconstructed into a solo bass.

Aviar” is the name of the putter that Baldwin (an avid disc golfer) uses when he plays. Played on flugelhorn, this tune is simple and uses long melodic notes to create an al- most cinematic feeling. The ending features Harder-Nussbaum’s drums while Baldwin switches to trumpet for a half time rock section.

4U” is a ballad written by Baldwin for his parents. A flugelhorn intro leads into gor- geous solos by Olsen, Godbout, and Devereaux, followed by “Because He Cares,” a melody inspired by imagery of a cowboy sitting with his dog by a campfire.

Ace Run” is perhaps the most straight ahead swing tune of the album. It ends with a figure which is also used as an interlude between solos where the feel slowly switches from swing to straight. Next up is “Watch Your Fingers” which was written after Bald- win slammed his fingers in a car door. It is a heavily modified blues.

The record closes with “True Love Will Find You In The End,” the only cover on the album. Written by Daniel Johnston, Baldwin makes his vocal debut on what he consid- ers to be one of his favorite songs ever written. A rubato feel gives this a floating feel- ing. Though it is his debut as a leader, Where You’re Planted has been a long time com- ing, and clearly establishes Baldwin as a strong voice in the contemporary jazz trumpet world and a compelling composer. In addition, it brings his decision to locate in Min- neapolis full circle, rooting himself in the regional sound of the Twin Cities.

Jake Baldwin is a first call trumpet player in the Twin Cities music scene. He attended the New England Conservatory from 2009-2013 during which he placed 3rd in the In- ternational Trumpet Guild’s 2010 Jazz Division and Second in the 2013 National Trum- pet Competition. In 2019 Jake was a finalist in the prestigious Carmine Caruso In- ternational Jazz Trumpet Competition. He can be heard with a wide variety of groups ranging from his own quintet to subbing with the Minnesota Orchestra. Jake currently tours and sings with the legendary Four Freshmen and has had his trumpet playing featured on television shows such as “Archer” and the video game series “Assassins Creed.”