Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ad-Lib#2: Beware of Baker and Heywood

Beware of Mr. Baker is the title of a new documentary, and exceptionally a good one, about legendary drummer Ginger Baker which is going to be screened at this year's London Film Festival.

The programme booklet of the 56th London Film Festival insists in calling Baker "the world’s greatest drummer" which he obviously is not, as you will see in this accurate portrait of his musical (and geographical) journeys, ambitions and passions, how he is cut by Art Blakey in one of so many drum battles Baker set with the giants he praised. Even in the only scenes in the film that he is not bragging, or insulting people (including himself) he drops a few tears about his only "true friends" and "idols", Phil Seamen, Max Roach, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones. That's exactly the moment one begin to understand the reason for Mr. Baker's contempt for many of his ex-colleagues, among them, unjustly, Jack Bruce of the Cream. Baker talks about Time all the time. That's what he feels as what many rock musicians lack and why they cannot keep up with him and his complex rhythmic fireworks. He wants to be acknowledged in the idiom of jazz, and not became the context of his stardom, rock music.

But still there is something in his rock outfits (Cream, Blind Faith and especially Ginger Baker's Airforce), a certain drive and madness, which doesn't come up in his strictly jazz combos. Here, for instance, you can see him in his mid-1990s trio with Bill Frisell on guitar and Charlie Haden on upright bass which is of course exciting and exemplary driven out of a good time-keeping goal, but still too heavy-sounded for jazz. Too much bang and boom!

Anyway, if you want to see how at the beginning of a film, its director gets smacked in the face by its subject, and accidentally the assaulting madman is one of the architects of progressive and mature rock drumming, don't miss this film, but always beware of Mr. Baker.

Trailer of the film is here:

Diving into the world of 78s, this week's Ad-Lib invites you to listen to four sides cut by a very unlikely trio from May 26, 1944: Eddie Heywood on piano, Johnny Hodges and his golden alto sax, and Shelly Manne on drums, waxed for Signature label.

The drawing above is the work of my friend and colleague, Naiel Ibarolla whose Blues en Jazztown blog features many more examples of his brilliant art works about jazz and jazz musician, and recently, jazz scene in London.

No comments:

Post a Comment