Coming off a horrific beating after a show in San Francisco, Baker broke his front teeth and in an essence, ruined his embouchure. Albert’s House is never remembered for the conquering playstyle that Baker was able to exhibit before, but is instead fascinating to see the continuation of progression even after the physical defect. Even from the first moments of Albert’s House, the somber air cuts through the speakers like dead flowers in a parlor.
The trumpet from Baker is accompanied by Paul Smith on piano and organ which frequently takes the place of the dominating factor. Smith is essentially able to become the powerhouse on the piano and organs and gives the record that almost deafening wounded sound. Following is Barney Kessel on the guitar and Jim Hughart on the bass. Frank Capp leads the percussion and while subtle at most points, can bear light in a daunting overcast.
Tracks like “I Should Have Told You” or “Sunday In Town” are both drained but still have these moments of opaque beauty that is blinding at points. Baker even while a tragic character for the audience to follow on Albert’s House is able to be prolific at times. This reoccurring string that Baker plays seems to pop up at the climax of certain tracks like a theme in shambles. “Sunday In Town” especially fits that sectioning of work that borders and is able to consistently teeter between the devastating and the rebirth of a new franchised artist.
Even when Albert’s House does get more into lively efforts like “End Of The Line,” Baker is still not powerful enough to carry here. So he recruits some Latin-esque influence through shakers and more loose flowing keys that gives a much-needed boost of energy into the mixing bowl. But that bowl is still an isolated arching product that ends up showing both the determination of Baker and the endurance of a player here.
Preferably taking sections where the notes are not as powerful or the composition as strong as it could be, Albert’s House is a vulnerable record that puts the strengths of Baker to the back and settles for his weakness as the central spotlight. While never being a record that stands among his discography and truly fits in, Albert’s House can stand alone and in doing so, makes the human connection of empathy over interest.