“…what’s remarkable is just how consistently recognisable Baker’s style is: whether he’s playing jazz, Afrobeat or psychedelic blues rock…there’s never really been another drummer quite like him.” – Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise
“…virtuosic small-combo jazz abounding with spirit, excitement and smarts.” – Jeff Tamarkin, Relix
Ginger Baker, renowned for his work with the Graham Bond Organisation, Cream, Blind Faith, and Fela Kuti, formed his latest group, Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, in 2012.
After tours in the UK, Europe and Japan and also several sold-out dates in the US, the group released Why? (Motema)- Baker’s first new album in 15 years. The sound was both a return to Baker’s roots and a new exploration of the kind of cross-genre, innovative fusion that he has always championed since his afrobeat years in Nigeria with Fela Kuti in the 70s.
Why? continued that tradition thanks in no small part to Ghanaian percussion powerhouse Abass Dodoo. The two have worked together for several years now and it certainly shows; the charged interplay between Dodoo’s explosive exuberance and Baker’s trademark disciplined insistence has been honed into a web of complex rhythm that forms the backbone of each piece.
Meanwhile, funk giant Pee Wee Ellis, who got his start as bandleader for James Brown, lays down line after line of effortless bluesy soul on the tenor sax; in a quartet where half the musicians are percussionists, both Ellis and bassist Alec Dankworth are called on to sustain the melodic element just between the two of them, a challenge they more than rise to.
It’s an unconventional line-up and an unconventional sound from a man who has never done what anyone expected of him; once voted ‘Musician Least Likely To Survive The 60s’, Ginger Baker is still here, still playing and still pushing boundaries.