show review:Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion – Thalia Hall (6/14/15)

Photo by Clayton Hauck

“So do you have a huge jazz boner right now?” Kathryn asked.
“No, it’s more of a historical boner”.

Ginger Baker played Thalia Hall with his Jazz Confusion on Sunday, June 14th and we were fortunate enough to get tickets.  The floor is typically standing room with balcony seating around the hall, they set out rows of chairs on the floor for first come first served.  We sat about 10 rows back. Within seconds we realized no one was sitting in these chairs because the AC unit was dripping onto the seats.  We slid our chairs back 2 feet back to get away from the dripping and had wonderful seats for the show.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- ginger baker – although every picture i took of him makes him look like a ghost. Probably pale skin/bright lights in action- thalia hall:photo by drumnmike

The lights dimmed and Ginger and the other 3 members walked onstage. His percussionist helped a slow moving Ginger onto the drum riser, catching him when he stumbled up the stairs.  The percussionist sat at a set of 2 bongos and 2 spiral thrash cymbals at a height reminiscent of John Stanier. At one point Kathryn asked who had the idea first.  I’ve taught her well.

Although Ginger is in his 70’s, he’s playing as if drumming is the one thing he can still do fluidly. When he spoke between songs he’d have trouble breathing every few words, but he would quickly jump into the next song as he was finishing his next sentence.  The band would follow along, typically starting with a saxophone melody, then bass solo, then percussionist and ginger solo, then the full band would come in to bash it into the end.

Midway through the set when Ginger was speaking to the crowd he remarked that he had just gotten out of the hospital 10 days ago, and was livid that Thalia hall had so many stairs as that was one of the things he couldn’t do.  Although after watching Beware of Mr Baker movie spending time in the hospital and then playing shortly after is something that he routinely does, hearing him speak about it now can make someone wonder how many more times he’ll be able to get away with it.

They played a 40 minute set, took a small break then got back on the stage within 10 minutes to play for another 30 minutes.  They walked off stage then the percussionist led a very African style chant of “gingah bakah” for one last song.

The most reflective point of the night was Ginger’s brief intro before the 2nd to last song ‘Why‘.  This was the one song with vocals and he asked the audience to join in the chorus.  It was a slight build and everyone was to yell ‘Why!’.  Before starting the song he referenced the fact that he’s lost everything in his life so many times, and upon reflecting he appeared to have remorse. It seemed to be very painful for him to see the path of destruction that he left behind him.  On our way home Kathryn was enthralled by him and looked up more about him on the internet.  One very positive mention was that he saw his son either the previously night or around that time, so he might be taken the song Why to heart and taking some steps to right some of his wrongs.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion sign – Thalia hall:photo by drumnmike