Search - Ginger Baker, Djq20, James Carter :: Coward of the County

Coward of the County
Ginger Baker, Djq20, James Carter
Coward of the County
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

Ginger Baker's taken the long road to a position at the height of the jazz drums family. He spent half a decade playing jazz in England before making it very, very big with Cream. Then he nearly vanished, playing drums all...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ginger Baker, Djq20, James Carter
Title: Coward of the County
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Atlantic UK
Original Release Date: 4/6/1999
Release Date: 4/6/1999
Album Type: Import
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075678316821

Ginger Baker's taken the long road to a position at the height of the jazz drums family. He spent half a decade playing jazz in England before making it very, very big with Cream. Then he nearly vanished, playing drums all the while but without the fan base Cream afforded him. Then came his two head-turning jazz trio CDs Going Back Home and Falling Off the Roof, both of which featured the bass and guitar of Charlie Haden and Bill Frisell, and which won accolades and more. Following those outings is this collection from Baker's Denver Quintet to Octet (or DJQ2O), which employs a host of the finest jazzers from Colorado's biggest city. Saxophonist Fred Hess and trumpeter Ron Miles are the best known of the bunch, but the entire band plays strong postbop. The group can vamp in a minor key with strong feeling, and it can get ferociously gritty, as on "Daylight," which gets drenched in distorted electric and pedal steel guitars at once. This is a jazz ensemble that should be on the road constantly, playing to ravaged crowds; its members are talented in every way. --Andrew Bartlett

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CD Reviews

Another strong jazz effort for rock's greatest drummer.
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Having been a Ginger Baker fan for years, his recent explorations into his jazz roots have been equally inspiring, though at times uneven, excursions. Still, Coward of the County, stands as perhaps his most consistently solid jazz release from top to bottom. The DJQ2O provide him with a wonderful line up of the best jazz musicians Denver has to offer. Toss the great James Carter into the mix and you have a fine recording which swings with heartfelt emotion. Baker adopts the role of complimentary supporter as oppossed to lead man and graciously allows his fellow musicians virtually unlimited space to step to the forefront.This is truly ensemble playing at its best. Most of the tracks are composed by Ron Miles and his trumpet playing is outstanding throughout. Carter's saxophone along with that of Fred Hess also take the music down roads ranging from avant-garde improvisatory fire to sweet melodic ballad interpretations. The title track is a wonderfully atmospheric tune featuring haunting keyboard and lovely cymbalic coloring by Baker. Those who think Ginger is merely a basher will have second thoughts upon listening to this track. Dangle the Carrot, one of two Baker compositions here, explodes from the gate and swings like mad. Baker's brief solo is proof positive that the 60 year old drummer can still burn with the best of them. It is also noteworthy that this represents his only solo on the album. Jesus Loves Me is a jumble of odd time signatures that somehow manages to work. Actually there isn't a weak track on the entire CD. The only complaint is that Baker, as time has gone on,has opted to play music which, with each effort, seems hell-bent on distancing himself farther and farther from the guitar-laced rock for which he built his reputation. This is certainly his perogative but those expecting to hear Baker slam away behind aggresive rock-oriented music, and he's always been the best at it, might find this release a disappointment.Even his work with Bill Frissel and Charlie Haden had enough of that sort of thing to thrill fans longing to hear post-Cream revisted. On this release, there's not a guitar featured spotlight anywhere. Instead the guitar is used for color and texture only. Still, this is splitting hairs. Coward of the County is a fine overall effort from one of this generation's legendary and definitive drummers."
A Solid, Mature Effort
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Admittedly, I'm not much of a jazz enthusiast. Nonetheless, I like this recording. You don't have to be a diehard jazz fan to realize that there's some incredible musicianship on this release. Admittedly, I wasn't sure what to make of some of the tracks at first (jazz is largely foreign territory to me). But as I played this disc again and again, the brilliance of the project began to reveal itself. I immediately fell in love with "Dangle The Carrot", a piece which contains some absolutely mesmerizing drumming. Never mind the few seconds in which Baker finally takes an all-too-brief (and seemingly anticlimactic) solo; it's what he's doing in the background as the other musicians are playing that establishes him as a first-rate drummer. Other songs of note include the excellent "Ginger Spice" and "Jesus Loves Me", a rhythmically complex offering. The title track is quite nice, being a somewhat introspective piece. Baker is a drummer who truly comprehends the fine art of ensemble playing. There's no hot-dogging, no overpowering the other players. The drumming is both supportive and complex, guiding here and holding back there, artfully adding to the strength of the other players rather than diminishing it. Even at moments when the drumming is subdued, it's not weak in any way. When Baker's on, he's ON. He's still vital, still very much the masterful musician. This album may not be a hit with the hardcore jazz-snob crowd, but this somewhat obscure modern-day classic was certainly a hit with me, and I recommend it."