Ginger Baker: Why?
Anyone who’s seen the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker or read an interview with the irascible musician knows that Ginger Baker doesn’t have much love for rock drummers (or people in general, for that matter). Although he made his name with Cream and Blind Faith in the ‘60s, he’s always considered himself a jazz drummer first and foremost. Why?, Baker’s first album as a bandleader since 2001, lends plenty of credence to the now 74-year-old’s self-evaluation. Working with a band he calls Jazz Confusion—saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (of James Brown’s ‘60s groups), bassist Alec Dankworth (Baker says he’s the best he’s ever played with) and African percussionist Abas Dodoo—Baker digs deep into jazz classics (Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints”), while also paying tribute to the early British blues-jazz scene and his love of African rhythms. Don’t expect “Toad” here—what you’ll get is virtuosic small-combo jazz abounding with spirit, excitement and smarts.