The first album in eight years from the legendary drummer Ginger Baker, best known for his time with the game-changing supergroup Cream (with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce) and for being a true music pioneer. On “Why?” he leads his powerhouse Jazz Confusion Quartet, which includes The J.B.'s saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth and Ghanaian percussionist Abass Dodoo.On the heels of the 2012 documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker,” which brought him and his fascinating life to a wider public, Ginger Baker takes the influences that helped shape him and puts them out front on “Why?” They perform a potent mix of jazz and Afrobeat across eight songs, which includes compositions by Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, a traditional Nigerian song, plus originals by Pee Wee Ellis and Mr. Baker. The “Why?” show has been filling venues throughout the UK and Europe, translating well to this unique album.Influenced by a love of African drumming and the great jazz drummers Art Blakey, Max Roach and Elvin Jones, Ginger's unique style of drumming created the foundation for an entirely new sound in rock music. He has been described as "rock's first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s." It has been said that virtually every drummer of every heavy metal band that has followed since Cream’s time, has sought to emulate some aspect of Baker's playing.Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, Box Mill, Wiltshire with Ginger as producer and mixed by the legendary producer and engineer Chris Kimsey, the album is just eight tracks and circa 51 minutes in duration. There are three Baker compositions and he arranged the traditional Nigerian song Aiko Biaye.The line-up is an interesting one and seems to be a perfect fit too, with palpable chemistry between the quartet. Pee Wee shows another side, known as a funk master with James Brown’s fabulous band, but here he is a jazz fiend and in really innovative fine form . But this is no ordinary straight ahead jazz album by any means. It’s world music at its best and perhaps very apt then, where they chose to record it. Alec Dankworth is from jazz Royalty, his late father Sir Johnny Dankworth and his mother the Dame Cleo Laine. Let’s not forget his singer sister Jacqui either. Alec nails the bottom end very nicely thankyou. Abass Dodoo finds the spaces between Ginger’s sometimes frenetic drumming and adds lovely African flavours and steamy emotion. Ginger's in his element on this material, and it sounds like this is where his heart is. So natural. Like him or not - and he has a reputation for being a difficult sod as we all know - one cannot deny he is a true one off, as a master of his chosen instrument and a leader not a follower. If you get fed up at gigs or on record with over blown drum solos, this may not be one for you. But if you appreciate unbridled creativity and want to hear an originator at work, and at the top of his game, then go get this and turn it up really loud. Maybe check the time and that your neighbours are not asleep first! You don't want an ASBO at your age!
WORDS SIMON REDLEY