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Drummer Ginger Baker grumpy but ready to go

Drummer Ginger Baker grumpy but ready to go

You could feel the annoyance in Ginger Baker’s voice.
Drummer Ginger Baker grumpy but ready to go
Ginger Baker

You could feel the annoyance in Ginger Baker’s voice.

“What the hell is psychedelic blues rock?” snarled the British drummer, most famous for his work with rock super groups Cream and Blind Faith during the 1960s and ’70s.

The 75-year-old Baker should check with his press people — Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion is advertised as an evening of improvisational music combining influences of jazz, Afrobeat and yes — psychedelic blues rock. The group plays The Egg in Albany’s Empire State Plaza Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Baker has two reputations. One — he’s one of the most celebrated and influential drummers in rock history. Two — he’s a notoriously difficult interview for journalists.

Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany


MORE INFO: 473-1845, www.theegg.org

In a brief telephone interview from England with The Daily Gazette earlier this week, a tired-sounding and occasionally grumpy Baker talked about his music and his health. “I just got out of hospital with pneumonia, which was a very bad attack,” he said. “I’m getting too old, I think. There are so many things wrong with me, it’s ridiculous.”

But he’s still on the road. “It’s great while I’m playing,” Baker said. “It’s the before and after that’s not too good.”

The Jazz Confusion quartet also features funk musician Pee Wee Ellis on saxophone, bassist Alec Dankworth and Ghanian percussionist Abass Dodoo. Baker did not elaborate on the style of jazz his group will play; he did not disclose his favorite types of jazz.

“There’s only one kind of jazz,” he said. “J-A-double Z.”

Baker knows jazz drumming. According to his biography, he was playing with Dixieland bands during the late 1950s. By the mid-1960s, he was with the Graham Bond Organisation, the British jazz and rhythm and blues outfit.

He co-founded blues-rock Cream with guitarist Eric Clapton in 1966, with Clapton bringing bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce into the group. After Cream broke up in 1968, Baker joined one-album wonder Blind Faith in 1969 and later formed jazz-rock outfit Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

There has been travel and lots of albums over the years and the 2012 documentary film, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” which looks at the man’s self-destructive patterns and losses of fortune.

Baker said the Confusion team will not re-interpret any Cream hits in a more jazzy style. “No,” he said. “It’s been done.”

Looking at legacy

During the interview, he talked a little about Cream, and the group’s legacy. “It was probably the best band of the century,” he said. “It only stayed together as long as it did because it was successful.”

Baker doesn’t think much about tours by 1960s bands The Who and the Rolling Stones, and says he doesn’t particularly have any jazz favorites. But he will address that grumpy reputation. Sort of.

“Yeah, well, people ask me silly questions about jazz blues psychedelic rock,” he said. “Why do you have to put silly names on things? Like what kind of jazz do I play? There’s only one kind of jazz!”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

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