March 1997

Ginger Baker
Falling off the Roof
Atlantic Classics

There are a whole lotta musicians who would kill for a resumé like that of peripatetic drummer Ginger Baker: member of Cream and Blind Faith, bandmate of Fela Kuti, survivor of a drum showdown with Elvin Jones, olive farmer, polo player, born-again jazzer (his '95 trio recording, Going Back Home, certified his abilities).

Baker's latest record, Falling Off The Roof, is another vivid chapter in his ongoing self-reinvention. Once again backed by Bill Frisell on guitar and Charlie Haden on bass, Ginger propels the groove through a rocking/swinging melange of originals and standards that are indelibly memorable. An unselfish bandleader who gives plenty of room to his mates, Baker nonetheless looms over the proceedings with a Blakey-like persona-subtly throwing vibes by strategic drum rolls and bombs, brushing up billows of wind, shifting time and space, rocking out. Highlights-that's tough, but the gothic blues of Frisell's "Skeleton," Baker's 4-on-the-floor "Vinco Vecchio" and the bluegrassified Frisell/Béla Fleck (banjo) plecturings on Haden's "Taney County" are keepers. So is Falling Off The Roof.

Originally published in March 1997

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