One of my FB pals posted this trailer the other day. It’s for a documentary about Ginger Baker, the infamously crazy drummer for Cream. Very entertaining, it looks like, but language a little salty for most offices:
The New York Times review of “Beware of Mr. Baker” — hey, did I mention I was a Cream fan? — makes it sound right up my alley:
Right at the beginning of the new documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker,” the film’s director, Jay Bulger, is attacked by his subject, the rock drummer Ginger Baker. Not verbally attacked, mind you — though there will be plenty of that — but physically, with a metal cane that draws blood when applied to the bridge of the filmmaker’s nose. Mr. Baker, whom we will subsequently encounter in less agitated moods, is upset about the direction of Mr. Bulger’s project.
…Mr. Baker has never been, to understate the matter, an easy person to get along with, a point that “Beware of Mr. Baker” returns to as it follows him through four marriages, at least a half-dozen bands, roughly one million cigarettes and countless burned bridges. Animated sequences depict a ship, rowed by the drummer’s red-haired avatars, zigzagging the globe — from London to Nigeria to Los Angeles and other spots on the way to his current home in South Africa — leaving a trail of not entirely metaphorical smoldering wreckage.
People who are extremely gifted at something are often monsters, a theme that’s been explored about a million times but never seems to get old. But there’s something about drummers, too. Is it the constant banging that makes them nuts, or are nutty people drawn to bang on things? I have a good memory for odd fragments of this and that, and Roy Edroso once made a remark in passing about drummers, by way of noting the passing of James Brown:
All jokes aside, it has been my experience that the drummers who conform to stereotype are the ones who just can’t do anything else (just as it’s always the monomaniacal cooks who are the crazy ones) — but if they have anything besides paradiddles rattling around in their noggins, they are usually quite brilliant, and typically exacting when put in charge of group endeavors. The great drummers I’ve worked with — Andy Malm, Ray Sage, Sally Barry, Billy Ficca — all have wide-ranging interests and very short tempers. They love a groove, but they despise a mess.
I’m going to try to add more to this tomorrow, but for now, I’m a limp heap.