Legendary rock drummer, Ginger Baker, renowned for his work with Cream and Blind Faith, is returning to the UK for a jazz fusion tour. Teaming up with tenor saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth, and African percussionist Abass Dodoo, the quartet will be performing as ‘Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion’.
You can expect progressive jazz originals in a Thelonious Monk style with exciting African rhythms!
Ginger Baker’s recognition as a drummer began during the Graham Bond Organisation in the earlysixties. The band toured with The Who, The Troggs, The Moody Blues and Chuck Berry, attracting press interest for their outrageous behaviour and riotous fun. In 1964 Baker was considered ‘one of Britain’s great drummers’ by Melody Maker journalist, Chris Welch.
While Baker, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992, Modern Drummer Hall Of Fame (2010) and Classic Drummer Hall Of Fame (2011) and whose awards include a Grammy Life Time Achievement Award (2005) and Zildjian Top Drummer Award (2008), was impressing music journalists, he was also attracting attention from other musicians, one of them being Eric Clapton. The two met, jammed, saw one another play in their then- current bands, added bass player Jack Bruce and formed Cream. In Baker’s own words they created ‘instant magic’ and began touring earning £45 per show, to later smashing box office records previously set by The Beatles.
After Cream, came Blind Faith. Baker and Clapton were joined by Steve Winwood and Rick Grech to make just one album. When Clapton and Winwood left to further their own projects, the remaining members went on to form jazz rock fusion band ‘Ginger Baker’s Airforce’ adding sax, flute, organ and extra percussion to the band.
During a trip to Africa Baker found himself moved and inspired by Nigerian radio. Despite the war zone in that part of the country he was adamant about visiting Nigeria and pushed to set up a recording studio in Lagos. When it opened as ‘Batakota Studios’ Paul McCartney arrived with Wings to record part of his ‘Band on the Run’ album. Music aside, Africa gave Baker a wonderful climate to live in and a healthier lifestyle than that of rock n roll and touring. He discovered his love for polo and rally driving.
Baker’s work with Airforce and friendship with Fela Kuti pathed the way for Baker’s next musical project: to work with African musicians. A live album was recorded in Abbey Road studios under the name of ‘Fela Ransome- Kuti and Africa 70 with Ginger Baker’.
He then went on to form English rock group The Baker Gurvitz Army in which Baker was also involved with providing extra sounds for their debut album. The wheel spins from his Jensen FF were used for their song ‘Mad Jack’. He also rode a wheeled swivel chair backwards down a flight of stairs for a second track on their debut album.After setting up a second recording studio, this time in North London, Baker formed ‘Energy’. Since then he’s performed at various live events such as Verona’s Percussion Summit and his own unmissable 70th birthday party with special guest, Steve Winwood, at Camden’s Jazz Café.
But now he is back in the UK and formed the quartet, Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion…..featuring Pee Wee Ellis, tenor sax, Alec Dankworth, bass and Abbas Dodoo, African percussion.
They debuted in April 2012 at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, and followed with performances in Europe, the UK, and Tokyo.