Atlantic #82652-2. 10 Tracks. Category: Jazz. Released 1994. Widely available.
Overall Rating: *** out of ***** (Will certainly be played occasionally).

Ginger Baker of Cream fame gathers together with virtuoso bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Bill Frisell to produce a jazz album that should appeal to fans of both rock and jazz. Baker's drumming is as good as ever on this album, and accompanied by Haden and Frisell, the trio takes on eight of their own compositions supplemented by Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser" and Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin.'"

Among the most appealing songs are Haden's compositions, in particular "Ginger Blues" has a catchy melody, making it stand out from the rest of the tracks. Haden really seems at home composing jazz for the trio. "East Timor," a track by Baker is hauntingly powerful, mainly because of his spoken narrative lamenting the destruction of this country with the support of outside governments. On "Straight No Chaser," Frisell's guitar admirably performs the piano and sax parts while Haden makes it in there for a solo himself. One might ask why we need yet another version of "Straight No Chaser," while others say that you can never get enough of a good thing. This version is definitely a good thing. Baker's "I Lu Kron" and "Ain Temouchant" have a touch of a Middle Eastern sound. They sound like classic rock at times, but more in the way of mellow jam mode rather than blistering heat. "In the Moment" bends music almost to the breaking point, doesn't quite shatter it—outstanding work by Haden!

This is a solid album that may give some folks a fresh look at Ginger Baker and introduce others to first-rate bassist and jazz composer Charlie Haden. I recommend it to those Cream fans who want to see Baker in a different light and those jazz fans who like Haden but thought that perhaps his recent offering, Now is the Hour, was a bit overly lush at times. This album presents an uncluttered performance by a trio of skillful musicians.

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