|Alec Dankworth, Abass Dodoo, Ginger Baker, Pee Wee Ellis|
Caught Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion at the Wilbur Theater in Boston last night. Even though Baker has mostly played jazz-oriented music for decades now, it was largely a rock crowd, replete with vintage concert t-shirts and gray ponytails. That said, no one was there to hear old Cream hits. People knew what they were in for and responded with enthusiasm to the instrumental solos from bassist Dankworth and tenor sax man Ellis and the wicked polyrhythms generated by Dodoo and Baker. Certainly there were Baker diehards there, heavily into his virtuosity, but there wasn't much hero worship. The irascible drum god wouldn't stand for it.
When Baker left the stage briefly after the first song there was cause for concern. His health isn't good, with serious lung and spine issues. He returned saying "at my age when you need to take a piss you take a piss." But when he was drumming there was no impairment. Going in I knew that the presence of African drummer Dodoo was a good sign. And sure enough, every song and drum feature had powerful pulses and clear structures you could hang your hat on. Too many jazz drummers sacrifice a recognizable pulse in the name of "creativity" or "stretching out." Not a problem last night. I guess it makes sense that the sax chair was filled by an alum of the James Brown band. Yes, it was jazz even old rockers could love.
(This photo was taken by our friend Tony from the floor seats.)