Cream drummer Ginger Baker comes to Howard Theatre

WASHINGTON — Legendary drummer Ginger Baker is showing no signs of slowing down at 74 years old.

The former rocker comes to the Howard Theatre this weekend with his band Jazz Confusion.

Baker is touring in support of his first album in 16 years, “Why?”

Released this week, the eight-track album explores Baker’s roots in jazz but also incorporates his love for African rhythms, which he was able to explore in the 1970s with Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

Baker has earned a reputation as equal parts genius and curmudgeon. His fiery temper and drug abuse largely contributed to the breakups of both Cream and Blind Faith in the late 1960s. Both bands are cited by music historians as helping to forge paths for heavy metal and jam bands.

Many argue that Baker set the bar for all rock drummers who came after him. He brought his experience as a jazz drummer to the forefront in Cream, with his advanced sense of rhythm and extended drum solos.

Baker, however, detests labels on music. In the 2012 documentary “Beware Of Mr. Baker,” the drummer groans at being compared to Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

“Bonham had technique, but he couldn’t swing a sack of s**t,” Baker says with a laugh.

Jazz Confusion knows how to swing. The band features saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, who worked with James Brown and Van Morrison. And bassist Alec Dankworth has worked with Morrison and Dave Brubeck.

Catch Ginger Baker and Jazz Confusion Friday at the Howard Theatre. Tickets start at $42.50.

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