Meet Carl Baldassarre

The Story Of Baldassarre

“I answer the ‘why’. I don’t care as much about ‘what’ you need to play, but rather why it needs to be played. I’m coming at you as a composer, so it’s why that chord or technique is used and less about where a finger goes. I love looking at music and talking about what makes it work.” — Carl Baldassarre

In his nearly 50 years as a professional musician, Carl Baldassarre has been lauded as an exceptional guitarist, ingenious composer and a music scholar. And now, on the eve of releasing a new album (Grand Boulevard), he’s also becoming a YouTube classic rock sensation.

We’ll explain: When he’s not touring or creating music, Baldassarre serves as a foremost authority on rock’n’roll, particularly from the ‘70s. His YouTube channel (where he’s dubbed the Professor of Classic Rock) started on a whim during the early days of covid. But just two-plus years later, he’s already amassed over 1.5 million views for his clips, which focus on great guitar riffs and techniques, song composition and a bit of rock history, highlighting the best of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and Rush (among many others).

“I’m bringing my knowledge of composition and classical music to the world of classic rock analysis,” he says.

You could say this was a gig 52 years in the making. “When I was 11 years old, in 1970, I had an older sister who came back from college and had been exposed to all this great rock music,” says Baldassarre. “She brought home all this vinyl and told me to sit down, put on headphones and listen to it. I heard [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘Heartbreaker’ and that was it — that was an awakening and the beginning of my musical journey.”

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While his YouTube channel started out from a place of isolation during covid, it was also a project Baldassarre long wanted to tackle — going back to his roots and taking his decades of musical knowledge to relearn everything these great bands had done from a technical perspective. “Looking back, I realized how improperly I was playing the music,” he admits.

For his channel, Baldassarre spends less time on the note-for-note explanations of these great guitarists and more on the reasoning behind the music. One particular guitar hero was Jimmy Page. “It’s not just one thing with him. His solos, when he opens up, there’s an unbridled danger there, and even a sexiness. I don’t know (laughs), his soloing is sensual. And as a composer, I’m really impressed with his willingness to explore different genres — he’s done everything from Middle Eastern to blues to country, Celtic, funk, soul, classical … he shape-shifts through genres.”

The same description could be applied to Baldassarre’s own career as a musician and composer. Born and raised in Cleveland, his first band, Abraxas, received a recording contract when he was 19 years old. From there, he found success with his progressive rockers Syzygy, but later felt pressured to find a day job. “I’d been on my own since I was 17, and I learned a hell of a lot by being on the road nonstop early on,” he says. “There was a lot of instability in my upbringing and we were poor. I loved music but I needed a job. And I realized I was good at figuring out life in other areas, like business and finance.”

While not entirely leaving the music industry, Baldassarre went on to a highly successful white-collar career in finance. But in 2014, he pulled back from his job, dieted, cut out sugar and dropped a lot of weight (and regrew his hair) and relocated to a lake house in Madison, OH where he could focus exclusively on his music. “My career in finance kind of broke away from me,” he admits. “I was moving away from what I was as a composer, musician and educator. I was getting sick. I had to get back to how I started.”

Now working full-time as, yes, a composer, musician and educator, Baldassarre’s own catalog includes everything from progressive rock to beautiful pieces of classical music, all recorded in some of the best-known studios in the world. And with each new work, he remains impossible to pigeonhole, deftly leaping through styles and genres. As Baldassarre wryly notes: “A Grammy-award winning producer once described my music as ‘somewhere between Christmas and being burned alive.’”

The most impressive and expansive release in Baldassarre’s catalog might be the forthcoming Grand Boulevard, an album that deftly steers through guitar rock, funk, gentle ballads, R&B, reggae and even a bit of orchestral pop that would make Burt Bacharach (a personal hero of Carl’s) proud. It’s decidedly modern, but you may hear a hint of the classic bands he loves seep in. “I think ‘Sands of Tarifa’ has a bit of an Eastern, ‘Kashmir’-like feel,” he admits. “And ‘Gin With Alice’ is a Steely Dan-inspired song. But I think they’re all pretty original songs which grew out from their earliest inspirations.”

How to sum up a multifaceted career? “I just have this crazy passion to inspire and educate people and occasionally make their heads explode with new insights,” he suggests. “I love playing and writing. But I also enjoyed, at one point, being a sought-after private equity investor. It’s been a crazy journey.”

Even with his continued passion for the rock legends of yore, it’s Baldassarre’s own work that he remains proudest (and much of which the world hasn’t heard yet due to covid).

“Out of everything, I care mostly about my own compositions,” he says. “And that’s how I’d want to be remembered. I want it to say on my tombstone, ‘‘Here lies a composer. The boy had range.’”

You can discover Carl by visiting carlbaldassarremusic.com; @CarlBaldassarreMusic (YouTube) @carlbaldassarre (IG); facebook.com/carl.baldassarre.58

Music & Business Testimonials

  • Carl is a smart, thoughtful and patient business partner. My years working with Carl have made me both a better businessman and, more importantly, a better person.
    David Schnadig
    Cortec Group/leading private equity firm in the U.S.
  • Carl was a perfect mentor and guide. He really did care about the success of all who were involved.
    Jeff Talley
    retired CEO of Liberty Safe, Inc.
  • Carl Baldassarre has proved to be the ideal board member for our company: prepared, polished, inquisitive, supportive, creative, firm in his beliefs and yet open-minded.
    Stan Burson
    retired CEO of FFR Merchandising, Inc
  • Carl's work is as expansive as it is intricate. I am lucky enough to closely observe and learn from his process. Carl is unrelenting in his pursuit of mastery in detail.
    Gene Knific
    Award winning composer, arranger and jazz pianist
  • The range of Carl’s composing and songwriting is both eclectic and truly unique. Being part of his ‘next idea’ is something I always look forward to!
    John Hinchey
    Award winning arranger/orchestrator and horn player
  • Carl is one of the most creative artists I’ve had the privilege of working with in my career. As a musician, as a composer, and as a person, Carl’s a delight.
    Dave Martin
    Award winning bassist, engineer, producer, and Member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame
  • Carl is a wonderfully diverse artist and composer. His deep knowledge shows through in his compositions and performances
    Don Carr
    Guitarist The Oak Ridge Boys, Lou Rawls, James Brown, Merle Haggard and Tim McGraw
  • Carl’s insatiable thirst for knowledge of music has him constantly growing as a composer and player without fear of stretching boundaries or limits.
    Phil Naish
    Grammy and Dove Award winning producer, arranger, songwriter and keyboard player
  • Carl has challenged us with so many different styles of music and has brought his brilliance in classical music to my record “Invisible” by composing the Prelude.
    Nick D'Virgilio
    Drummer, vocalist and songwriter Tears for Fears, Sheryl Crow, Kevin Gilbert, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Spock’s Beard and Big Big Train
  • Carl is a real visionary with a rare set of diverse skills and perspectives. He’s been a continuous and invaluable advisor and counselor to me and our firm over the years.
    Terry Mullen
    Arsenal Capital Partners/leading private equity firm in the U.S.
  • Carl’s distinctive music reflect his love of a creative process informed by a unique, eclectic background -- it’s always a fascinating adventure . . .
    Rick Wentworth
    BAFTA nominated film and TV composer, conductor, orchestrator and arranger
  • Carl is one of the most versatile composers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. His affection for all genres of music is palpable and his passion exudes through his compositions.
    Walfredo Reyes, Jr.
    World renown drummer/percussionist: current member of Chicago
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© Carl Baldassarre Music, LLC - by Alex Coven