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Ginger’s still hot on all that jazz ready for Colne's Blues festival
THERE are drummers — and then there is Ginger Baker.
From his days with the Graham Bond Organisation and the legendary Cream in the Sixties, the unique style of this one-man rhythm machine has influenced drummers of succeeding generations. And now he’s bringing his band, the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion to Colne.
I had been warned in advance not to describe Cream — in which Baker featured alongside Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton — as a rock band and the great man was quick to re-emphasise the point.
“Cream was a jazz band,” he said. “I’d say 80 per cent of what we did was improvised. It was never the same two nights running and that’s the way I’ve always played.”
Jazz is clearly Ginger Baker’s passion and his band features saxophonist Pee Wee Eliis, bassist Alec Dankworth and percussionist Abass Dodoo.”
@The line-up is like some jazz bands from the early Sixties, with just drums and horns, it’s a style that Ornette Coleman pioneered,” said Ginger.
He will be playing Colne before heading off for two nights at the famous Ronnie Scott’s Club in London.
“Blues and jazz have always gone along together,” he said. “So I don’t see anything unusual in my band playing on the bill of a festival like Colne.
Ginger Baker’s life in music has been well-documented.
The title of his autobiography Hellraiser sums up his reputation over the years. Last year a documentary film crew followed him around for months and the result, Beware Mr Baker, was nominated for several awards.
He remains irascible and uncompromising, not suffering fools or questions he considers foolish gladly.
But his passion for making music has never diminished in spite of a series of ailments which leave him in constant pain.
“It is miraculous that I can still get out and play,” he said. “But it’s when I start to play that all my physical problems disappear and I really do think that I am playing better than ever “I genuinely love playing. What I don’t like is all the travelling — I hate it.
“When we’re touring I’ll arrive at the hotel and just lie down until about half an hour before the gig.
“We’ll do the gig and then I’ll go straight back to the hotel and lie down.
The live stage appears to offer Ginger some release.
“I don’t practise any more. I don’t need to,” he said. “We may rehearse the band a few times but we are all musicians and we listen to each other on stage.
“Things just happen when we play. It is almost telepathic. We just listen to each other and it all flows from there.”
- Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion play the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne on Sunday, August 25. Details from 01282 661234.
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