INFLUENCER: Meet Leland Baker

With a Master’s Degree in Music Performance from URI, the jazz saxophonist, music educator, and composer talks about his weekly gigs, lecture series, and enjoying Providence’s vibe


You’ve studied and played music in New Orleans and New York City. How does Providence stack up?

What I found in Providence to be really cool is that there are many circles of artists all in close proximity to each other, meaning you can always find a creative outlet here. I have been able to partake, one way or another, in many different artist forums, whether through FirstWorks, PVDLive, RISCA, Brown Arts Initiative, Rhode Island Latino Arts, etc.


Do you have a favorite local spot to play?

One of my favorites is Courtland Club; there is a really cool vibe and sense of community. It has become one of my longest standing weekly gigs in Providence. I feel free to explore artistically on the bandstand there with my trio.


What is your advice for new musicians trying to hone their craft?

Never give up, even when extreme obstacles present themselves. Take care of the music/art and it will take care of you. Also make sure to take time for yourself in the process. Relax, watch a movie, take a walk, go on a hike, read, hangout with people, sleep.


Tell us about your lecture series Bridging Gaps.

The idea is to bridge the gap or space between various art forms and/or the audience. For example: can there be a bridge of understanding that connects a jazz musician and a ballerina? Can there be a bridge of understanding that connects a moment of improvisation that is happening within a band with the audience? It is about getting into a space where we – artists and laypeople – can explore these gaps or lack of knowledge – and hopefully develop and construct a bridge that brings us all together.


What are some of your favorite places around the city?

Courtland Club, The Eddy, Needle and Thread, Dolores, Bayberry Garden, The Walnut Room, The Parlour, Kin, The Slow Rhode, The Royal Bobcat, and Troop, to name a few. And Cuisine Delmar in Pawtucket.

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