Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Master class from great survivor Ginger Baker

Rocker Ginger Baker
Rocker Ginger Baker

Drummers are music's awkward squad, like Shakespeare's lunatics, lovers and poets "of imagination all compact".

None more so than Ginger Baker. As a recent documentary demonstrated, his verbal percussion pounds with the same intensity as one of his drum solos. Yet he is one of rock's great survivors.

Frail he may be, but the expertise remains. Opener Footprints was a gentle way in, low on pyrotechnics but full of rhythm and the odd hearty thump, especially in tandem with the impressive Abass Dodoo from Ghana.

It was a reminder of Baker's links with African music and he repeated the same trick with greater power in Ginger Spice.

When asked if he was getting into jazz, John Lennon once allegedly replied: "I've been trying to avoid it all my life." Make no mistake, this was a jazz concert through and through, the touchstones for this great 60s legend being Thelonious Monk rather than Chuck Berry.

This meant that there was the jazz band's tendency to fiddle while a tune burns. But when Baker began to let rip in the second half of the show, this frail man delivered something of a percussion master class.

Three stars

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