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The Ginger Baker Trio


Making up for the years he spent in self-imposed exile, former psychedelic wildman of the drums Ginger Baker has released his second album of 1994. While his previous outing was an odd attempt at revisiting his past, circa 1968, this time he’s gone further back in time—to the land of his bop idols, Monk, Bird, Max Roach—with greater success. Sticking with the trio format, Baker has enlisted guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Charlie Haden for a loose and unruffled jam session. At first, the very sound of Baker’s dull, thudding drums seems both incongruous and annoying. But with repeated listenings, the nine songs (and one song/sermon) prove infectious. With Haden keeping things respectably grounded, Frisell engages in airy, space-age noodlings that might be described as Hawaiian country and western. Though Baker’s accents occasionally fall too hard, betraying his years as an arena rocker, for the most part he maintains an appropriately light time-keeping touch. Further evidence that Baker is back: He held an online conference on Delphi over the weekend, and NPR’s All Things Considered used the opening cut, “Rambler,” as incidental background filler between two of its stories.