Update: Baker cancels gigs

Imminent heart surgery has caused the legendary drummer to withdraw from planned concerts; Gene Calderazzo takes the drum seat at Bournemouth Jazz Festival

Ginger Baker (pictured right by Victor Diaz Lamich) has been forced to withdraw from this year's Bournemouth Jazz Festival for health reasons. Baker was due to headline the festival on Saturday 23 April with his band, Jazz Confusion. Unfortunately, Baker is in need of heart surgery and has been forced to cancel all of his upcoming gigs.

On Saturday 27 February a brief statement appeared on Baker's blog: "just seen doctor… big shock…. no more gigs for this old drummer…. everything is off…. of all things I never thought it would be my heart…"

Bournemouth Jazz Festival quickly issued a statement explaining the cancellation and expressing its sadness at the reason for it: "...legendary drummer Ginger Baker requires urgent heart surgery and as a result is cancelling all forthcoming bookings. Mr Baker was scheduled to headline the Bournemouth Jazz Festival on Saturday 23 April... Gerry Clarke, festival director, said 'We are really sorry to lose Ginger Baker from the festival line up and our best wishes go out to him for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.'"

Festival organisers have been equally swift in announcing a revised headline act: "The Ginger Baker Experience featuring Andy Sheppard will now be playing the Saturday night headlining slot following Ginger Baker's enforced withdrawal on medical grounds. Taking the drum seat is the acclaimed American master drummer Gene Calderazzo (pictured left), who has worked with a host of jazz and rock musicians including Sting, Radiohead, Phil Woods and Randy Brecker"

Festival director Gerry Clarke commented "You can never ‘replace' someone like Ginger Baker and finding an alternative at short notice was never going to be easy. I am therefore delighted we have managed to find such a highly regarded drummer to complete the band. They will be rehearsing and performing Ginger's Jazz Confusion compositions and I am confident we can look forward to a headlining concert of outstanding music." Clarke added: "I know a number of fans will be disappointed that we won't have Ginger Baker at the festival in the flesh. But with the Ginger Baker Experience we will have him there in spirit and I hope they will show solidarity at this difficult time for Ginger by coming to the concert."

In view of the line-up change, the festival has reduced the ticket price for this concert from £25 to £20 (plus booking fee). Those who have already booked can exchange their tickets at the point of purchase for ones at the new price or obtain a full refund.

Information about the Bournemouth Jazz Festival can be found on its webpage.

Bruce Lindsay

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