2. Ants in the Kitchen
3. Bemsha Swing
4. Rabbit Run
6. Sweet Wine
7. Iko Beiya
Ginger Baker - Drums
Chris Goss, Leda Baker - Guitars
Abbas Dodoo - African percussion
Pete King - Alto sax
Jonas Hellborg - Bass
I'm old enough to remember seeing Ginger Baker playing in jazz groups, well before he became famous worldwide as a member of Cream. So I got this album in the hope that it would include some jazz, especially with the participation of Pete King, one of Britain's finest saxophonists.
And there is some jazz on this album. It is a kind of jazz-rock - yet not the sort of jazz-fusion where rock beats are added to jazz, but a mixture of rock guitars and drums with jazz saxophone. Pete King is the main attraction on such jazz numbers as Thelonious Monk's Bemsha Swing and Wayne Shorter's Footprints, soloing with swirling invention, although the clangorous guitars tend to get in the way on Footprints. And King lays out for rockier tunes like Rabbir Run.
The concert at London's Jazz Caf‚ was to celebrate Ginger Baker's 70th birthday. One might have expected him to do a drum solo but he only plays a brief and rather unexciting solo on the Cream's Sweet Wine and joins in the African rhythms laid down by percussionist Abbas Dodoo in the Nigerian folk song Iko Beiya.
Some items show signs of minimal rehearsal - for example in Sweet Wine, where the vocals sound poorly harmonised. Another drawback is the immensely drawn-out introduction from Ginger's grand-daughter and then Ginger himself, rambling at length for a five-minute segment that won't repay playing more than once.
However, there is a bonus: the inclusion of a DVD of the same tunes, with the pleasant novelty of cameras that don't move about too frequently. Like the CD, this also includes the unexpected arrival of Stevie Winwood (misspelt Windwood in the DVD credits) to play a Caribbean-style Happy Birthday.
So this package is a mixed bag, and only parts will probably appeal to jazz lovers. However, it's an interesting aural and visual record of an event recalling some of the many facets of Ginger Baker's multifarious career.