ALBUM REVIEW: Eden, Lorraine Baker, Spark Records, Out Now
The work of famed American jazz drummer Ed Blackwell is the inspiration for Kent-based band leader Lorraine Baker’s debut album, Eden.
Four years in the making, the eight-track album is sandwiched by two drum solos from Lorraine who graduated from London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with first class honours in 2009.
Eden goes to great lengths not to upset the traditional jazz standard of fast, electric-bass driven sounds, mixed with slower, saxophone-steered numbers.
But there is enough on the album’s six substantial tracks to suggest that Lorraine has her own ideas about jazz drumming.
Speaking to Spalding Today, Lorraine said: "Ed Blackwell was born in New Orleans and worked on a lot of drumming techniques, getting a pulse going with his improvisations.
"He did some work in Africa before moving to New York City and you can really tell the African influences in his drumming.
"Most of the improvisations have a pulse going which I think is really great and they have been captured on my new album.
"The project has been going on for four years of my life, starting from when I was at Trinity Laban where I heard an Ed Blackwell recording called Dakar Dance.
"I'd never heard that kind of drumming before and I knew that I needed to hear more of that style before trying to imitate it.
"But I also wanted to take it in my own direction as I gradually realised that there was a pathway for it."
Armed with her carefully chosen band, Paul Michael (electric bass), Binker Golding (tenor saxophone) and pianist Liam Noble, Lorraine performs compositions with names, such as Dakar Dance, Thumbs Up, Blues Connotation and Pentahouve.
Each instrument is used to play jazz, calypso, ska and African sounds on what is an album of fine tastes.
All this from a woman who started playing the drums aged 12.
Lorraine said: "My parents have always been really supportive and I'm very thankful for them providing me with the opportunity to play in live bands.
"When I'm doing live gigs with my band, we decided how a piece flows in tune and there's a certain structure to it.
"But there's also a need to listen all the time which is why I chose the band for the album and tour."
Eden has been unleased on audiences at 18 different venues across Britain, with the last stop being Vortex Jazz Club in London's Dalston area tomorrow (Thursday) night.
Lorraine said: "I've been really pleased with the tour which started last month in Greenwich, a special place for me because I attended Trinity Laban there.
"Everyone has responded well and I've had some really nice feedback from the audience, telling me how well the band fed off each other and worked well together.
"Everyone liked the tines, even though some of them were ones they had not heard before."
As well as playing and recording, Lorraine is also a freelance drumming and percussion tutor in her home county of Kent and in London, working with both children and adults.
But she is still allowing herself time and space to think ahead towards her second album.
"I discovered one of the last albums Ed Blackwell played on and found some really beautiful tunes that I wanted to take and work with," Lorraine said.
"With Paul Michael helping me, we were able to go in a new direction with the tunes.
"Another influence for me was meeting double bassist Dave Holland which made me think that the tuned I'd discovered needed to be out there, but wanting to do so with my own band.
"Now, I'm starting to think forward in terms of another collaboration because I have so much material that I want to work on and have built on over the years.
"But the next album will be based on more original tunes, taking the sound down a more electronic route."
Review and interview by Winston Brown