Baylor Project follows Grammy nominations with hometown shows at Jazz St. Louis
Jazz act Baylor Project is back in the Grammy race, this time with two nominations heading into the February 5 ceremony in Los Angeles.
The group is led by husband and wife team, Marcus and Jean Baylor. Marcus, originally from Ferguson, is the drummer and Jean is the vocalist. They live in New Jersey.
This year’s nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album (“The Evening: Live at APPARATUS”) and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (Marcus Baylor, “Call of the Drum”) are the Baylor Project’s fifth and sixth nominations.
The Baylors agree it is an honor and a blessing to be nominated. “To be a homeboy from Ferguson, what more could you want?” Says Marcus Baylor.
But they’d also love to win a Grammy — or two. Could this be the year the Baylor project finally takes home the gold?
“We hope for the best and hope to come home with a win,” said Jean Baylor. “But I would say we have no expectations; we set ourselves goals. When we were first nominated, we set ourselves goals to get nominated. Now we have set ourselves the goal of winning. So much of it is out of our control.”
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At the end of the day, Marcus Baylor says, “We’re all out here creating art, and whether we win or lose, we still have a concert next week.”
The Baylor Project has a Jazz St. Louis Residency at the Ferring Jazz Bistro February 15-19.
The nomination for Marcus Baylor’s “Call of the Drum” solo is the surprise of the two. He credits his wife for helping with this.
“I have to hand it to Jean: she encouraged me to put the solo on the record and submit it to the Grammys,” he says. “If you say it was a big surprise when my name came up, are you serious? Whatever happens, it’s us both, the Baylor project. At the same time we look at all the elders who played some of the greatest solos of all time.”
The solo, he says, “is based on the band and the context you’re playing in. You can’t do that without a great band.”
“The Evening: Live at APPARATUS” was recorded May 12-14, 2022, shortly after the 64th Grammys.
“We shouldn’t be releasing an album (in 2022),” says Marcus Baylor. “The year should be touring and relaxing our minds.”
But they were invited to perform at APPARATUS, an interdisciplinary design studio in New York City.
“We’ve been trying to figure out what it is,” says Jean Baylor.
Reopening after a COVID shutdown, the space wanted to book the Baylor Project for an immersive experience centered on a new collection.
“They started a jazz club (called MUMS) in the gallery,” says Jean Baylor. “Everything masterfully done. It was like stepping into a completely different world. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”
And that’s no exaggeration. The jazz club was demolished after the concerts.
The Baylor Project didn’t go to the event, assuming it would result in a live album, but they recorded it just in case. Marcus Baylor had been thinking about making a jazz album for a while.
After three nights of performing on APPARATUS, the Baylors took about a month to wind down, then went back and listened to the shows. They realized that what they had in their hands would make a great live album, so they selected the best performances.
“We listened to the music and there was something,” he says, “and we flipped it and released it.”
The Baylors credit APPARATUS with putting the pieces together to make the concerts and album work.
The live album, a first for the Baylor Project, is also available on vinyl – another first.
The Baylor Project, which last performed in St. Louis in 2021 as part of Music at the Intersection, will be able to stay longer with its Jazz St. Louis shows.
The Baylor Project is accompanied by a full band playing selections from The Journey (2022) and Generations (2021). The live album includes songs from these two albums.
“We look forward to family and friends,” says Marcus Baylor. He’s excited to come home to St. Louis fried rice, Red Hot Riplets, and spaghetti and fish dishes — not to mention the mix of straight-forward and groovy jazz tunes they’ll bring in concert. “We can hardly wait. It will be something to remember.”
What The Baylor Project • When 7:30pm Feb 15, 11am and 7:30pm Feb 16, 7:30pm and 9:30pm Feb 17-18 February, 6:30 p.m. February 19 • Where from Ferring Jazz Bistro, 3536 Washington Boulevard • How much $42-$47 • More info metrotix.com