Kate Baker & Vic Juris: Return To Shore

Husband and wife duet ranges from Broadway to Glen Campbell and the Beach Boys and forms a tribute to the late guitarist Juris


During the two decades before this recording, singer Kate Baker and her guitarist husband Vic Juris appeared regularly as a duo. Deciding to put their partnership on record, in early 2019 they began work on this album. Sadly, in December that same year Juris died from neuroendocrine cancer. This excellent album thus became a tribute to a fine musician as well as the originally intended celebration of the couple’s loving relationship with music and one another.

In addition to numerous club performances, Baker has appeared at festivals in the USA and overseas and she is also a highly respected teacher. In the latter role, she is noted for specialising in vocal therapy, this being an outcome following her recovery from a physically damaged voice. She has taught under the auspices of The City College of New York and The New School University of Jazz and Contemporary Music. She has also conducted workshops, at some of which she teamed up with Sheila Jordan and Mark Murphy.

Baker’s vocal sound, rich and fluid, is especially suited to the repertoire chosen for this album, which is her own-name debut. As can be seen, the song selection includes some that are infrequently recorded and others that, while well known, are far from being overused. Common traits include pleasing melodies and that they are ideal canvases for interpretations by both voice and guitar. Additionally, both singer and guitarist bring to the songs their jazz thinking.

Since the early 1970s, Juris has been well known in jazz, rock, funk and pop. At first, word spread thanks to his work, live and on record, with Lyn Christie, Eric Kloss, Barry Miles and Richie Cole. In later decades, he played with fellow guitarists Bireli Lagrene and John Abercrombie. Always inherent to his playing has been an air of lyrical romanticism, a quality that melds well with the balladry heard here.

Although Baker and Juris did not know of the dark cloud that lay on the horizon, a lingering impression of this set is that it fulfils the original intention of recording for posterity the love of these artists for one another and their music. Very warmly recommended.

God Only Knows; Return To Shore; I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face; Black Crow; The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Moonscape; Magdalena; Both Sides Now; Blackberry Winter; Are You Kind (54.03)
Kate Baker (v); Vic Juris (g). Hampton, NJ & North Brunswick, NJ. 2019.