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Individual Record for: Theodore Benjamin Baker (male)

    Sidney Baker+
  David Baker      Family Record
Theodore Benjamin Baker      Family Record Rose Blumin+
  Sylva Sara Cann       

Event Date Details
Birth 30 NOV 1961 Place: Philadelphia, PA
Ted was born and raised in the Philadelphia environs. After studying at Oberlin, Ted spent most of the 80's playing with sundry Philly groups such as Grover Washington, Dexter Wansel, and Jean Carne. He was also part of the original bands "Basement Culture" and "The Elevators". Shortly before moving to New York in 1990, Ted started touring with The Philip Glass Ensemble, an association that continues today.

Once in New York, Ted reports that "the voice of Broadway kept calling to me". Productions to which he has donated his keyboard magic include The Who's "Tommy" (original production, Broadway, London, and on tour in North America; he worked with Pete Townshend of The Who); Randy Newman's "Faust" (Goodman Theatre, Chicago); and Broadway's "The Lion King", from which he took leave in order to tour with Steely Dan in 2000. Ted was also on leave from the Art Garfunkel tour, where he teams up with SD alumnus Warren Bernhardt. Today, Ted is one of the most sought after keyboardists on the New York music scene, possessing an extraordinary musical vocabulary and remarkable skills.

Ted reports that his studio work on Steely Dan's Grammy award winning Two Against Nature recording was "without question the pinnacle of a session musician's existence"...but we must point out that this assessment was offered before he was awarded the coveted Bunsen Prize on July 13th, 2000.

Ted Baker uses a setup that features a Steinway baby grand piano (typically miked with two Shure SM82s) and an organ (either a Roland VK-7 or a Hammond B-3) through a Leslie 122 cabinet.

With 30 years of playing professionally under their belts (and millions of albums sold), things have changed --- both onstage and in the studio for Steely Dan '03.

For one thing, endless fussing about what their sidemen play is out. "They are not very dictatorial, and they don't tell you what to play," says SD road and session keyboardist Ted Baker. "If it isn't working, they might give you some suggestions. But it's never a directive. You're free to work out your place. They're all about where to lay your part into that groove matrix. It takes a lot of concentration to play with them night after night. I have to be at my sharpest. I know that they're listening and that they hear everything. They have x-ray vision --- this greater sense of being able to hear all this stuff in the midst of everything else. It's incredible."

As always, the musician's respect for SD remains. "Donald will sit down at sound checks and play standards," says Baker. "He sounds incredible. Donald puts his body into it, and he is so attuned to the feel. He lays it way back into the beat, and you think it will sound too far behind. But it never does. That attention to feel is what makes him an incredible musician."

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