Quentin Baxter Part of Grammy-Nominated Jazz Project

This is a 360-degree video. Either click or tap and drag your finger to get a good look at Quentin Baxter’s office as he plays the drums.

The first time College of Charleston adjunct faculty member and alum Quentin Baxter ’98 was part of a Grammy-nominated project, he watched the awards show from home. This time, he’s heading to Los Angeles for the occasion.

Baxter will attend the 59th Grammy Awards on Feb. 12, 2017. He is part of the team that came together for Sound Of Red, featuring vocalist/composer René Marie, which is nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Sound of Red is her 4th release on the Motema label and features all original compositions. The album was co-produced by Marie and Baxter. Baxter has toured with Marie for nearly 15 years now, having performed on six of her recordings and co-produced four of them.

“This nomination means a lot to me. It’s the second nomination as a producer and performer,” he says. “I used to think Grammy-Schmammy, but it hit me when I produced my first major label album with Marie, The Voice of My Beautiful Country, that it’s important, for what I think is important, to be recognized in music at any level.” Baxter also adds, “The 2015 nomination is special because it celebrates the music of an extremely important cultural icon and was the first nomination on which I played major roles as both performer and producer to gain this honorable recognition. This year’s nomination is even more special as the follow-up release to the tribute album because it celebrates an important and current ‘voice,’ literally and musically, genre-defying, of original vocal/instrumental compositions and the musical collaborations of a core unit that helped to realize the original works deserved of such high recognition.”

Marie, who has worked with Baxter previously, tapped him to help produce and drum on the 11-track album of original compositions. The band stretches out along the East Coast. Baxter resides in Charleston, Marie lives in Virginia, and pianist John Chin and bassist Elias Bailey stay in Brooklyn.

“We find a way with our schedules to get together and rehearse our music,” says Baxter.

Many times the band is able to get through sound check quickly on gigs — they’re just that good — that they can spend the rest of the time rehearing newer pieces.

With the band spread out and still producing amazing work, Baxter has a message for budding musicians in the Lowcountry.

“It’s important for me that other people understand that you can live in Charleston and still do things here,” he says. “And I’m sure Darius [Rucker] feels the same way, that when I’m visiting elementary, middle, and high schools, that it’s important to still be accessible at home and show people from Charleston that this place is no less — in a musical sense or any artistic sense — less than anywhere else. It’s really up to the artist to believe and to go for everything they can go for.”

Baxter’s previous nomination was for I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt), a 2013 album he worked on with Marie. Baxter wanted to attend the awards that year, Exavia Q. Baxter ’15, but couldn’t score a second ticket for her. So, they watched online from the comfort of home.

“While watching, Exavia made me promise to attend next time with or without her,” he said. “In keeping the promise, I look forward to the trip to LA to attend this year’s ceremony.”

He says it’s an honor to be nominated, and even if he doesn’t bring home a trophy, he’s excited about the music and the album.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “Whatever hangups I had as a kid about anything — at some point you grow up and you really dig the magnitude of the opportunity.”