Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kansas City Jazz Guitarist Brian Baggett

Welcome to a Neon Jazz interview one of the finest jazz guitarists in Kansas City ..  Brian Baggett – During our candid interview, he talked about his roots in Kansas, his essence for playing music, a new book he just published, his live gigs, teaching and much more. 

Neon Jazz is a radio program airing since 2011. Hosted by Joe Dimino and Engineered by John Christoper in Kansas City, Missouri giving listeners a journey into one of America's finest inventions. Take a listen on KCXL (102.9 FM / 1140 AM) out of Liberty, MO on Saturday Mornings from 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. Listen to KCXL at

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Museum receives composer's manuscripts, recordings

Lawrence jazz guitarist Brian Baggett recently donated his recordings of original manuscripts of 19th-century guitar musician and composer Henry Worrall to the Kansas Historical Society, according to a news release.


Worrall’s manuscripts and Baggett’s video and audio recordings of “Sebastopopl” and “Carmencita” can be accessed at Kansas Memory is KHS’ online archives of documents, books, photographs and videos.


Worrall was a musician and composer of popular guitar instrumentals. His compositions influenced the development of country and blues guitar styles in the rural South of the early 20th century.


Baggett is a member of the Brian Baggett Trio and the rock band DOJO. He performs in Kansas City, manages Supersonic Music in Lawrence and is a music professor at Ottawa University teaching jazz guitar.

22 JAM D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2 + J ANU A R Y 2 0 1 3

f o r t h e r e c o r d

Brian Baggett Trio

Brian Baggett Trio

Personnel: Brian Baggett, guitars; Bill McKemy, bass; Josh

Adams, drums

Tracks: Stella by Starlight, The Days of Wine and Roses, God

Bless the Child, Beautiful Love, Angel Eyes, I’m So Lonesome I

Could Cry, Solar, You Go to My Head

Recorded and mixed at Studio 17, Lawrence, Kansas, 2012.

Guitarist Brian Baggett’s

new CD is a compelling, innovative

standards album.

You may have also heard

Baggett as the guitarist in Ken

Lovern’s OJT or as the leader

and guitarist of the fusion/

rock band DOJO. A talented,

skilled guitarist with a foot in

more than one city, Baggett

performs regularly in KC, manages Supersonic Music in

Lawrence, and teaches at Ottawa University.

Reminiscent of the Jim Hall style on this album, Baggett’s

playing is often sparse, but Baggett says a lot with each

note; he chooses with wisdom, artistry, and grace. Baggett’s

guitarist voice is clear, bright, and intelligent--and

wisely, vibrantly understated.

One of the most compelling tracks on this CD is Baggett’s

group’s rendition of the standard “Solar,” executed

with a funky fusion feel. Upbeat, contemporary, but still

grounded in the roots of the original, Baggett’s version

of “Solar” feels a little like Chick Corea’s Electrik Band

meets Sonic Youth. Baggett’s playing is at first sparse and

contemplative, but heats up and gets busy as the tune

progresses--and everything about this track is forward

moving, solar hot: from yellow flame to blue flame hot.


22 JAM D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2 + J ANU A R Y 2 0 1 3

f o r t h e r e c o r d c o n t i n u e d

The vamps on this tune highlight the comping and soloing

skills of each group member, from drummer Josh Adam’s

funk-march riffs and fills in which he skillfully lands the

backbeat in innovative places to bassist McKemy’s soulful,

low, grooving ostinato lines to guitarist Baggett’s ‘70s

feel, echoing notes, which in the sparser spots sound like

hip, held, Morse code signals for a space landing. Like

much of the album, this tune grooves hard, is melodic

and filled with sensitive full-band interplay, but is understated,

played with the low steady flame of discipline and

measured, but vibrant, control. And, remarkably, this is a

memorable version of the tune that appears to chart and

stake some new territory. You won’t hear another band

play “Solar” quite like this.

Another of my favorite tracks from this album is

Baggett’s trio’s rendition of “Beautiful Love.” A more

traditional arrangement, this love song swings hard,

and features Baggett’s soloing skills, often reminiscent

of Hall, but at times of Metheny. Baggett’s sound is his

own, though, full of characteristic repetend, a meditative

approach, and just the right approach to space. Baggett’s

introductions are often filled with pregnant pauses that

lead to bright, crafty, compelling runs. And Baggett is not

often one to overplay, although he is not afraid at the arc

of the solo to get busy. Returning to the tune, the end of

“Beautiful Love” includes a tasty duet between Baggett

on low tones and Adams on toms. Each plays just enough,

as in a conversation between people who truly know each

other. This final interlude is one reason to play and replay

this track.

A mix of swung tunes and fusion/funk revisionings,

Brian Baggett Trio is an album for the jazz aficionado, the

seasoned player, or the listener new to the scene, but interested

in new views, new interpretations. A clean, vibrant,

polished album--but one with lift--this CD can be set to

play on repeat and should not disappoint. Its nuances--

some classical (golden age jazz), some contemporary--are

worth listening to, and returning to.

Copies of the CD can be purchased at Baggett’s


—Kevin Rabas

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: The Brian Baggett Trio- 2012

2012?  More like 1962.  That was my inital reaction upon downloading the new release by the Brian Baggett Trio.  A mainstream guitar trio in the Jim Hall tradition with standards like "God Bless the Child," "Angel Eyes" and "Stella By Starlight" seemed like a pointless anachronism.  Even so, I found myself repeatedly turning to the project as I worked at my computer. 

At first blush, 2012 seemed like little more than sedate background music.  Then I began noticing hip details.  Baggett's introductory passage to "The Days of Wine and Roses" alludes to his searing fusion and jazz-rock work.  He also threatens to break into a Pat Metheny-style jam on "Angel Eyes."

The album really opened up to me when I began listening to it on headphones.  It's beautifully recorded.   While Baggett isn't attempting to break any new ground, careful listening uncovers plenty of advanced concepts.  Perhaps most significantly, bassist
Bill McKemy is incapable of being boring.  Drummer Tom Morgan, an Associate Professor of Music and the Director of Percussion Studies at Washburn University, swings with admirable subtlety.

The 45-minute album is available as a free download at
Bandcamp through October.  It's also available at CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL - March 23, 2011

Baggett to play solo guitar gig at London's

By Bill Blankenship

Lawrence-based musician Brian Baggett will perform a solo guitar concert from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at London's live jazz cafe, 115 S.E. 6th.

Brian Baggett, one of the Midwest's in-demand guitarist, will perform a solo show Thursday night at his hometown's jazz club, London's. He will perform from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the downtown Topeka club at 115 S.E. 6th in the former Hillmer's Luggage storefront.

Baggett, 35, grew up in Topeka where he began playing as a youngster and started teaching guitar when he was just 18. He continues to do so as a private instructor, jazz clinician and as an adjunct professor of guitar and jazz studies at Ottawa University.

He also has played in a number of groups over the years, including the Lawrence-based fusion/rock band Einstein Electric, which garnered critical acclaim, played at major music festivals and shared the stage with major acts like the Jerry Garcia Band and Galactic.

Currently, the Lawrence-based Baggett can be heard performing with Ken Lovern's O.J.T. (Organ Jazz Trio) and his own trio, DOJO, as well as solo shows and as a sideman with other players.

Baggett has been profiled by JAM Magazine, which described him as "one of the most gifted and lyrical guitarist to claim a KC connection in recent years," and by Guitar Player magazine, which said "Baggett's incredible guitar playing falls somewhere between (Allan) Holdsworth and Alex Lifeson, yet with a sound of its own."

Samples of Baggett's sound can be found on his website at

Bill Blankenship can be reached at (785) 295-1284 or




DOJO Studiojo review by Rich Murray

Dojo is a Kansas-based fusion trio featuring guitarist Brian Baggett, bassist Chris Handley, and drummer Luke Stone. Much of their music has the shimmery chord-plus-Holdsworthian shred approach that many other "local" fusion bands tend to have. I've heard several of these types of bands over the years, but as much as I love that style of music, it's often hard to tell one of these bands from another. Dojo, however, is possibly the most distinctive band of this ilk I've yet heard. What sets them apart is their overall melodic sense - Dojo's writing has a tunefulness that most other bands in the genre either don't have, or perhaps shy away from. On their latest album Studiojo, every track is dripping with great melodies. There are plenty of high-tech chops on display here as well, no question, but the melodicism is what will grab you first.

Most of the Studiojo tracks are built around Baggett's clean chordal guitar parts, with heavier riffs coming in at times to beef things up. Overall, the writing (which is solely credited to Baggett) has a Steve Morse-meets-Bill Connors sort of vibe. Baggett's high-gain guitar tones are well defined without being too fuzzy, and his clean tones are just gorgeous. Possessing awesome picking and legato chops, Baggett has what I would call a rock-fusion style. The title track provides a good display of what he can really do from a technical standpoint. The solo on this tune starts with a highly legato approach, before shifting gears into some insane picking. I love the odd time grooves in this piece also, and the great drum solo Stone provides at the end. Another standout track is "Muscle Shirt," which opens with a cool intro reminiscent of Joe Satriani's "Midnight" before settling into an smooth groove. Handley and Baggett both take nice solos on this one. The band takes things out on the aptly titled "Demented," but even here among the trippy mood swings, cool melodies are the driving force. Another favorite of mine is "Fusion Blue" - great staccato chords, a melody that sticks on your head, and long solos from everyone.

"Something She Said" is the lone ballad, and it's yet another example of great writing. The contour and rhythmic structure of the melodies here were obviously well thought-out, resulting in one of the most memorable tunes on the album. The album closes with a great piece called "The Ball," which is augmented nicely by Ken Lovern on keys. There's a definite Eric Johnson influence on this song, but it reminded me of Carl Verheyen's work as well.

As someone who listens to a lot of jazz rock fusion music, it's rare that I hear many melodies on a given album that stick with me the way, for example, a great TV or movie theme does. It seems as though harmony and improvisation are higher priorities for most fusion artists. And that's ok - cool chords, great solos, heavy grooves; I expect and enjoy these traits from this style of music. What I don't expect is what I hear throughout Studiojo - a tangible focus on melody. This album clearly shows that Dojo's writing chops are just as impressive as their playing. Highly recommended. 

Rich Murray, June 10 2009




Spotlight by Mike Varney

GUITARIST: Brian Baggett


STYLE : Fusion rock

INFLUENCES: Eddie Van Halen, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Alan Holdsworth, Shawn Lane

MAIN GUITAR: Modified wooden Steinberger

LOCATION: Lawrence, KS

BACKGROUND: Baggett started playing guitar at age 14, and later studied jazz improvisation and music theory at Washburn University and the University of Kansas. Baggett began teaching ten years ago, providing private instruction to local players, as well as being a guest artist and clinician at Washburn And Truman State Universities, and recently giving jazz improvisation workshops at the Americana Music Academy. Currently a member of the progressive fusion group Dojo, Baggett's incredible guitar playing falls somewhere between Holdsworth and Alex Lifeson, yet with a sound of its own. Baggett's recording of a live Dojo concert reveals his keen ability to solo over sophisticated changes employing both melody and flash.

CONTACT: bbagg7@gmail;

Mike Varney is a San Francisco Bay Area record producer and owner of Shrapnel, Blues Bureau, and Tone Center Records




ABSTRACT LOGIX - September, 2005

DOJO Place of the Way review by: DeVon Pierre Jackson

From the opening song entitled The Vine, Brian Baggett and DOJO immediately captivated me. With the use of an acoustic guitar and some Methenyesque coloring for the background, the melody created a perfectly painted picture of midwestern charm. The Vine is an excellent example of an easy-flowing groove that keeps you on your toes, with soulful soloing and comping.

The second song entitled Bad Song is where you'll find DOJO taking you on a mysterious journey. At first Brian Baggett solos beautifully over a lush chord progression, as drummer Luke Stone shines with some awe-inspiring cymbal work. Then DOJO turns the corner with a driving rhythm segment, which paves the way for some exciting exchanges with all three musicians. With a lead tone that has a hint of overdrive and shimmering chordal stabs, you'll find yourself unable to deny the song's pull.

My favorite song on the album is the third song entitled Good Morning. Those two words never sounded so good, powered by the vocal like melody of the main theme. Even though no words are spoken, you can actually hear good morning vocalized by the guitar, with a stroke of melodic genius. DOJO has a unique way of staying away from the predictable. By focusing on the song's inherent platform for heavy exploration, DOJO doesn't rely on cliched riffs and soloing. Brian Baggett gives you doses of Cream-Era Clapton intensity and then ups the ante by displaying lethal legato lines. The song ends with a masterful bass solo by Brad Maestas that shows his ability create tasteful tone and touch.

The playful beginning of Lunch Time is a nice balance to the scorching come-hither offering that's to come. The rhythm section fills in all the right places with a powerful performance. The listener is treated to Brian's sax-like lines that could go on for days coupled with an unbelievable emotional depth that's usually reserved for guitarist twice Brian's age!!!

Number 5 and Fun in Harmony finds the band dedicating itself to building deep churning grooves, that will cause many to play them on repeat mode. This template gives the songs texture, which rewards you with a different perspective every time you listen to them.

Perhaps the most thought provoking song is the last one entitled Improvisation 1. If you are looking for proof that Brian Baggett is a guitarist to remember, you can find it here. The song is just Brian alone with an acoustic guitar. A man alone with a piece of wood and some steel, that can take something so simple and deliver an intimate conversation, is something to behold. Improvisation 1, touches on American music at it's best. With its folk-blues leanings offering visions of life at it's most precious moments, is enough of a reason to purchase this CD.

Music that is visual, emotional, and spiritual, can lead us to places never imagined.

DOJO-Place of the Way is just that type of music. It will stay with you long after the music has ended.




Guitars Galore by Tim Cross


Though his name may be new to some, Brian Baggett's recent

collaborations with bassist Bill McKemy, and his previous work with the Embius Trio, have people checking him out.

Originally from Topeka, Baggett gained his first experience in an improvisational rock band called Einstein Electric, which he formed while still in high school. As his interest in jazz grew, a natural progression from the music with which he was involved, he enrolled in Washburn University, played in the top jazz combo, and studied theory and improvisation with Chuck Tumlinson.

Before long, Baggett was practicing eight hours a day, seeking out veteran players like Rod Fleeman and Danny Embrey for lessons, and trying to find his voice, or "the soup," as he calls it.

"How many ingredients do you have in your soup? Just one? Or is it a dash of Scofield, a pinch of Martino, a sprinkling of Metheny, a taste of Wayne Shorter, and a hint of African music?"

His prime ingredient right now is Charlie Parker.

"I want to play saxophone on guitar. Alto sax is my favorite instrument."

He also admires Pat Martino, "for his touch and picking technique," and Jim Hall. "When you listen to Jim, it's like time slows down. It has taught me to be more thoughtful."

A dedicated individual who is still learning, Baggett approaches his playing with a deep sense of spirituality. As he puts it, "I am blessed to be musician."

Brian Baggett can be heard on Bill McKemy's current CD, Duende - October 2003

Brian Baggett Band - Lawrence, Kansas

The Web - CD review

By Patrick Ferris

Brian Baggett is a 27-year-old solo artist from Lawrence, Kansas. Coming from a background heavily influenced by jazz, Baggett has already performed with some of the world's top jazz musicians. His first solo effort The Web is a Rock Opera that spins the story of Dr. Awkward and his computer manifestation, Mr. E; a fictitious, but realistic portrayal of life in the computer age.The task of weaving a story into a rock-opera is, in itself, a monumental task, and I found The Web interesting, captivating and musically well crafted. Integration of ambient sound bites with appropriate arrangements suited to the lyrics creates a multi-dimensional musical experience. Much like Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Who's Tommy, The Web is a CD that needs to be listened to from beginning to end (preferably with headphones) to appreciate its full artistic scope. The Brian Baggett Band, assembled from members of the Midwest's most accomplished ensembles, will begin performing The Web this winter. An animated film to correspond with the live performances is currently being developed.




PITCH WEEKLY - April 2003

Brian Baggett Band

The Web (Self-released) Review by John Kreicbergs

The rock concept album is a fading artifact. Chalk it up to shrinking attention spans or the apathetic avoidance of anything that remotely resembles a movement toward art in popular culture. Yet for local guitarist Brian Baggett, it's a realm still ripe for musical exploration.

The Web is Baggett's first completely self-produced solo project, but it's certainly not his first foray into the studio. He appeared with area funk-jazz act the Yards on its eponymous debut as well as on local jazz bassist Bill McKemy's first solo release, Duende. Baggett's ability to cross genres with a striking sense of ease and maturity allows him to render the ambitious breadth and width of The Web remarkably palatable.

Weaving a tale of warning against the creeping dangers of modernity and the pitfalls of isolationism bred by technology, Baggett's Web doesn't stray far from the formulaic archetypes of Pink Floyd's The Wall, the Who's Tommy or even Styx's Kilroy Was Here. Baggett's cast of characters and caricatures is engaging, and the disc's central story line serves a useful roll in unifying The Web's eclectic musical offerings, but it's his healthy doses of acoustic folk, classic rock, electronica and contemporary jazz funk that truly give his creation life. It's a gutsy move for Baggett to dabble in a dying genre, but it could be the sort of gambit that garners him the attention he deserves.