Monday, October 06, 2008

Mickey Baker

Over on the Jazz Guitar Forum a poster writes:

"It was probably close to 40 years ago that I got my first introduction to jazz guitar courtesy of Mickey Baker's jazz guitar method book. The book was first published in 1955 and is currently still in print (just like me, LOL). I've always wondered about whatever happened to the guy since then. Well I found out today. I was thumbing through the latest copy of Fretboard Journal in a bookstore and read a piece that they did on him. Turns out he has been living in France since the early sixties. They've got a current picture of him holding a nasty looking gun. Looks more like a Mafia hit man than a jazz guitarist, LOL. Interesting family history too. Apparently his grandmother ran a bordello and put her 12-year old daughter to work in the family business. Mickey was the product of one of those business transactions with a Caucasian guy. The rest, as they say, is history. An interesting comment from Mickey was that he wrote the method book before he really knew what he was doing."
Yeah, me too. Mickey Baker's jazz guitar books ("Complete Course in Jazz Guitar" ) were my introduction to the art as well. I've kept my original copies, and I find them as difficult and inscrutable today as I did then.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps this may interest you:
Mickey Baker "took" the material for his Jazz Guitar Book from a master musician in Brooklyn, NY named Rector Bailey. Rector taught all the instrumentalists in the area about jazz and modern chord progressions.I have photostats of the original lesson work from
a friend of mine who studied with Rector before the book came out in 1955. The first edition may have mentioned Rector's name I do not remember. My father, Michael Rogine knew Rector personally, and he told me the same story about Rector being the originator of the material.
Peter Rogine

Mike Saluzzi said...

I studied w/ Rector and he was truly a Jazz musician, guitar and organ.
He got me to play and get experience w/him at the Coronet on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn.
He had the greatest chord changes for jazz-played tunes.
I kept his chord changes that he wrote onto a spiral bound for years...loaned it to Jeff Castleman, but never got it back.
They were the real changes... a treasure!!! Let's Communicate!

Anonymous said...

Interesting article as for me. It would be great to read a bit more concerning this matter. Thank you for posting that info.
The only thing I would like to see here is such photo or even two :)
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Vince said...

Hello. My name is Vince Gardner, and I'm currently researching the history of Jazz in Brooklyn. The great jazz writer and historian, Dan Morganstern, told me about Rector Bailey a few days ago and since then I've been trying to find out more about him, and how he fits in to the entire Brooklyn scene. I know this was written a few years ago, but if anyone happens to have any information about Rector Bailey(especially Mike Saluzzi and "Anonymous", please contact me at Thanks,


Anthony said...

Took lessons from Rector when in college. Best experience of my life. I remember playing a composition which he would write immediately at the beginning of the lesson. Played with 2 others plus Rector at the Bass and foot cymbol. I remember him taking a phone call while we were playing and after a few seconds I realized he was helping a student tune his guitar while still playing the bass and foot cymbal. I didn't believe this was possible and intentionally made a mistake and he instantly corrected me. A truly amazing man. Also met MIckey one evening when he just popped in with who I believed to be Sylvia.

Lent my music to a friend who never returned them to me. What a loss.

Dan Calica said...

I studied with Rector at his studio/home on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. It must have been about 1960/61. Rector played guitar, piano, organ, bass, vibes and some drums. Most of his gigs that I know about were on organ. His lessons cost $5. That five dollars got you a lesson and a jam session later in the week. There were usually 5 piece groups in his jam sessions and we played lots of the jazz heads that you can find in the original Jazz fake book (the one with the yellow cover). Rector was constantly smoking and coughing. He would light each cigarette off of the last one. I believe he died of a heart attach at the age of 52. He was an encouraging teacher and a pleasure to know.

Trade Martin said...

Early 1958, I studied and jammed with Rector on lots of Sunday mornings. He always liked my D'Angelico. Rector was an outstanding musician on many instruments. I was very fortunate to be recommended to him by some friends who used to pick me up and drive me to Rector's home on Eastern Parkway.

Trade Martin.

Anonymous said...

According to George Wallington, Rector Baily played some gigs in the early 40's in the Village where Wallington joined him and got in to bebop.

Jason Miles said...

I studied with Rector Bailey from 1967-69. I still have the book he wrote out for me. He was a real character.Chain smoked and didn't start his day until 4pm ,but I learned alot from him and still look at that book. $5 for a lesson was like ridiculous for what you got back.I wish more people would remember him.

Doc S said...

Out of boredom, and relatively illiterate on the computer, I googled Rector's name and this came up - I just had to post a comment - I studied piano with him in the late 50's. He taught me a lot and I still have some of his original manuscripts and lessons written down. As I remember, his "significant other", we called "Mamacita" had a "last session" at his home/studio with so many cool people, too numerous to mention here....what a blast and "sendoff" that was. I can still see him teaching me, playing bass and hs "low-hat" cymbals,smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone as someone else mentioned. Anyone remember the big white Imperial convertible he drove???? He used to carry his B-3 to gigs in that thing too!!! What memories!!!!

Anonymous said...

I studied with Rector Bailey for about a half a year --- jazz piano and accompanied him to hear him play his wailin' jazz organ at a club in Brooklyn --- I'm a woman composer and today I compose mostly contemporary concert (okay, call it "classical") music but I had been raised with my Dad having jam sessions and listening in as a kid, so I always wanted to learn how to play and arrange jazz. I learned a bit about "comping" and having been to Columbia as a music major, I really needed to learn jazz chords, different hand positions, but I was awkward as heck at the keyboard. He was a very patient, brilliant teacher. This was around 1966 or so. I remember some quirky things about him --- he had a black-lit miniature scene in a niche in his Brklyn home --- kind of surrealistic. He cooked once a week and I swear his refrigerator held food that I would not have called "fresh" but he liked it that way, had bowls of overripe fruit too. The problem was that he thought I was pretty and you can guess the rest... I was not going to have a relationship with him so I quit studying with him, partially because I was so awkward at the keyboard in those days with those chords. Anyway, he was a goodhearted person and a true genius on the keyboard, drums, vibes and jazz organ --- I think he should have been more famous. Later on, I studied jazz arranging and found I wasn't as awkward as I was earlier, but I DO owe Rector Bailey a lot. What a character! What a great musician!