On Friday night, 27 June 2014, the Howard Theatre was packed for Ginger Baker‘s Jazz Confusion, a quartet made up of drummer Baker (formerly of Cream and Blind Faith), saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown, Van Morrison), bassist Alec Dankworth (Dave Brubeck, Mose Allison), and Ghanaian percussionist Abass Dodoo. And it was definitely packed– I’d never seen the Howard’s balcony open before, and it was open for this show (it’s really cool up there!). The show was part of the DC Jazz Fest, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
The quartet played a whole bunch of tunes from Baker’s new album Why? (the same musicians played on the album), which I wrote about as part of a concert preview for the Washington Post which you can read here. Baker definitely seemed his age on stage (you can hear how weathered his voice sounds on the recordings below), even joking that certain songs could do him in (you’ll hear his comment, “This could be the one!” before “Aiko Biaye”– just before I started recording, he’d called it a “Ginger-killer”, and he’d been making comments/jokes about his own mortality all night).