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Ginger Baker channels his energy into new project Jazz Confusion, playing New Hope on 6/28

Jazz Confusion | photo by Alexis Maryon
Jazz Confusion | photo by Alexis Maryon

Despite the fact that they only managed to stay together for a contentious two years, Cream was so influential that its DNA can be found in much of the rock music that developed over the next four decades. In Jay Bulger’s 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, Cream is cited as the first prog band, the first supergroup, the first arena rock band, the first jam band, and the first heavy metal group by giants of each of those genres, including Neil Peart, Carlos Santana, and Lars Ulrich. Despite that reluctant fatherhood, however, Ginger Baker has always been a jazz drummer. He’s also always been volatile, cantankerous, and self-destructive, as Bulger’s doc stresses. Bitter, angry, and broke in his self-imposed exile in South Africa, Baker routinely rails at and to anyone who’ll listen. His violent temper manifests in his vigorous drum sound, but behind the kit seems to be the only time when that temper is channeled into a productive avenue.

Baker’s wizened visage, shrouded by cigarette smoke, stares steely-eyed from the cover of his new CD, Why? (Motéma). His first new recording in 16 years, the album marks the debut of his Jazz Confusion quartet, which features former James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, British bassist Alec Dankworth, and Ghanaian percussionist Abadd Dodoo. The band, which will perform at Havana in New Hope on Saturday, incorporates jazz standards by the likes of Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter, traditional African music, and the leader’s originals, including the somewhat self-pitying title track. Don’t request any Cream classics if you don’t want something hurled at your head but expect a raucous set built around Baker’s muscular rhythms, which evidence both the wear and the strength of his battle-scarred face.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Leagues at Union Transfer, Ivan and Alyosha at Boot & Saddle, Destroyer at Johnny Brenda’s and more

Photo by Louis Kwok | www.musicvsman.com

Nashville pop-rock trio Leagues will be bringing their crooning vocals and toe tappin’ instrumentation to Union Transfer tonight. Drawing comparisons to bands like The Fray, who they toured with after being discovered by the band in Nashville, Leagues have matured into very much their own, mixing guitar and drums with pop heavy melodies and introspective lyrics. Find tickets and more information on the Union Transfer show here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kurt Vile at Courtyard City Hall, Pissed Jeans at Morgan’s Pier, Taj Mahal at Havana

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The City Hall Courtyard summer music series comes to a close tonight with a free solo performance by Kurt Vile.  Today has been dubbed Kurt Vile Day by the City of Philadelphia, which will present the Philly native with the Liberty Bell Award in recognition of his “outstanding professional achievements and civic generosity.”  Vile released his highly-regarded Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze LP earlier this year and will be back for a full-band show at Union Transfer on October 25th.  More information for tonight’s free concert can be found here.  Watch Vile’s video for “KV Crimes” below.

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