Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion feat. Pee Wee Ellis, Alec Dankworth and Abass Dodoo
Oct 22 - Oct 23, 2013
The Pacific Jazz Institue at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley welcomes legendary drummer Ginger Baker and Jazz Confusion featuring Pee Wee Wllis (sax) , Alec Dankworth (bass) and Abass Dodoo (African drummer). Show times Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30. Doors open at 5:30pm.
Legendary rock drummer Ginger Baker, renowned for his work with Cream and Blind Faith, is returning to the US for a jazz fusion tour. Few headliners at a jazz festival can claim to have been voted the person least likely to survive the 1960s. With a celebrated notoriety as a hell-raiser who explored the rock & roll lifestyle to its full potential, Baker can lay legitimate claim to that slightly dubious mantle. He found his eternal niche with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce in the rock power trio Cream. The group stretched conventional song forms to breaking point and foregrounded improvisation to an almost unprecedented extent. Their brief career is perhaps as crucial as the influence of Hendrix in turning the ears of Miles Davis, giving Baker at least a tangential relationship to the direction taken by jazz in the 1970s. An African sojourn saw the drummer falling for the vibrant rhythms of the continent and changed his musical outlook forever.
Although Baker has "dabbled" on-and-off with jazz for many years, it has usually been his more crossover projects in collaboration with the likes of Bill Laswell, Nicky Skopelitis and Jonas Hellborg that have best suited his unique approach. Once voted as ‘the musician least likely to survive the 60s’, over four decades later Baker has proved them all wrong, returning to the UK after living abroad for many years, with a formidable quartet of funk and jazz sax giant Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth, and Ghanaian percussionist Abass Dodoo. The music is a healthy mix of Thelonius Monk, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, plus originals from Ellis and Baker – a challenging and fresh sound with Baker and Dodoo providing a perfect powerhouse of rhythms. This slightly improbable aggregate always seems likely to be capable of surprise. And so it turns out to be – with heavy tribal rhythms and deep pulsing bass lines, the Laswell sound has found an effective acoustic voice and built a clever bridge between leftfield and mainstream.
In Jazz Confusion, Baker has somewhat ironically found a new jazz clarity. Had there been a conventional harmony instrument in the mix, then this group would almost certainly have been a less appealing prospect. As it stands, the drummer seems at last to have found a balance that plays to his strengths, cracking that elusive jazz nut once and for all and developing a format which could serve him well with a number of frontline instruments. This line-up balances the disparate elements of the old rocker's deceptively direct approach, his keen, heartfelt commitment to the polyrhythms of African music and love of jazz. It evokes an inspired response from the exposed voice of Pee Wee with just the support of the bass.
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
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