Ginger Baker Live At London’s Jazz Cafe
Come inside for a review of – and photos from – last night’s gig by the legendary drummer, part of Classic Rock‘s week of special awards shows.
Words: Hugh Fielder
There were more drummers than you could shake a stick at for Ginger Baker’s packed performance at London’s Jazz Café on Wednesday night (November 4), part of Classic Rock’s week of special awards shows, all craning to get a glimpse of the legendary drummer making one of his rare live appearances.
Most enterprising of them all was The Damned’s Rat Scabies who secured a close-up view of the maestro by offering to become his roadie for the evening. Packing away Baker’s trademark double bass drum kit after the show was a small price to pay for such a privileged view.
Baker, who won the Innovator Award at the Classic Rock Awards on Monday, hand-picked his band from across his career that spans more that half a century, including veteran alto sax player Pete King who played with him back in the 50s, guitarist Chris Goss who recruited Baker into Masters Of Reality in the early 90s, and top jazz-rock bassist Jonas Hellborg who has performed with Baker regularly for the past 30 years.
But it was also something of a family affair. There was his daughter Leda on guitar and the show was introduced by his grand-daughter Zara.
Baker started by apologising for the absence of one of his special guests, Eric Clapton, who couldn’t perform as he was recovering from a gall bladder operation but had nonetheless shown up to give his support to his old Cream mucker. “God bless Eric,” he muttered before launching into Alamout from his mid-80s album Middle Passage.
For the next hour he roamed across his cutting edge fusion highlights, leavened with a sprinkling of jazz standards, before alighting on Sweet Wine from Cream’s debut album and Aiko Biaye, a Nigerian folk song that was a showstopper for Ginger Baker’s Airforce at the start of the 70s.
For the finale he was joined by Steve Winwood who recalled seeing Baker at Ronnie Scott’s Club when he was 13 before playing two Blind Faith classics, Can’t Find My Way Home and Had To Cry Today.
He also led an impromptu version of Happy Birthday when Baker was presented with a three-tier cake to mark his recent 70th birthday.
The cake, which for some reason ended up at the Classic Rock table, was delicious.
– Hugh Fielder
Tags: Ginger Baker