Tom Baker: ten years gone

TOM Baker died on 23 October 2001, ten years ago.  He was 49 years old.
At the time, the outpouring of grief and sense of loss was phenomenal; not only in Tom’s adopted home Australia, but wherever he had played around the world; and not only amongst his fans who loved him for his talent and his approachability, but even more so amongst his fellow musicians, again for his talents but also for his wide generosity in sharing his knowledge and skills.

He breathed his music and mesmerised me

I learned so much about playing from Tom – especially playing from the heart which is the hardest thing.

There are plenty of good jazzmen about but Tom had that something extra that makes for a great player.

No matter what band he played with, Tom lifted the group to a higher level.

This small collection of some of Tom’s recordings is a tribute to a wonderfully versatile musician and a “fair dinkum bonzer bloke” as we might say in Australia.
The last video in this collection was posted today, 23 October 2011

The portraits in the following slide show are by Pat Qua. The photographs are from Paul Finnerty’s website Riff Raff Jazz.

Here Tom plays at the Strawberry Hills Hotel, Sydney about 1993. The lineup is Tom on trumpet; Paul Furniss, soprano saxophone; Don Heap, bass; Pat Qua, piano; Lynn Wallis, drums; Roger Janes, trombone; Paul Finnerty, banjo.

The next three clips are from the Fireworks band performances at the Sacramento Jazz Festival in 1998 – a wonderful year for this great band which included Graham Coyle, Jo Stevenson, Simon Stribling, Ian Smith, Mark Elton and of course, Tom Baker.

Here Tom plays with the Swedish Jazz Kings at the Akersund Traditional Jazz Festival, Akersund, Sweden in 1999
Tom Baker, trombone and vocals; Tomas Ornberg, clarinet; Martin Litton, piano; Bent Persson,trumpet; Olle Nyman, banjo; Bo Juhlin, sousaphone.

At the same Festival, Tom plays a duet with Martin Litton

The final two tracks were recorded live using a portable mini-disc recorder with a stereo microphone. July 2000, Ascona Switzerland (New Orleans Jazz Ascona)
“A million thanks to Dan Barrett. He was supposed to be there on trombone, but he had another concert, so I got to be there.” Michael Supnick.
Tom Baker – Cornet and vocals, Evan Christopher – clarinet, Michael Supnick – trombone, Eddie Erickson – banjo, ????? – piano, Trevor Richards – drums.

Not forgotten Tom.

2 responses to “Tom Baker: ten years gone

  1. Listened to some of the stuff I recorded with Tom yesterday and remembered all those good times we had. I played at the Breda jazz festival this June in Holland which was a tribute to Tom.

  2. I only played along side Tom Baker some years ago at the Suncoast Festival in the lovely seaside town of St Helens in Tasmania.
    Tom was what I call a ” natural ” and always threw down the gauntlet on stage, which invariably made you play above yourself because he was such a great improviser. His loss at a comparatively young age was a tragedy in the Australian jazz community.

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