Max Jones - MELODY MAKER June 17, 1961
|Dee at Casbar|
A new seven-night-a-week club, the Casbar Bon Soir, has started life in Gerrard Street, Soho. Music is by the Brian Dee Quartet, with altoman Graham Bond. Monday was unofficial opening night, for invited guests, and the club jumped pretty insistently until 2 a.m. or more. Keith Christie, Ronnie Ross, Bobby Wellins and drummer Kenny Gordon were among the barstanders. Wellins sat in on tenor for the final session, helping to produce some interesting music . . . . .
Peter Kennedy, Solihull, Warwickshire - MELODY MAKER July 1, 1961
DON RENDELL, the forgotten man of British jazz (MM : 17/6/61)? Surely not now, with exciting altoist Graham Bond and the rest of his new line-up. I have heard the quintet and think it is the most refreshing sound in British modern jazz for many a year.
Charles Fox- JAZZ MONTHLY February 1962
|Jazz And Poetry - A Concert Report|
The drama, you might say, came at the end. Ronnie Scott, up to that time a slightly acid compere, read out the list of performers and thanked the audience for coming, the band swung into Take the "A" Train, the curtains prepared to descend. Suddenly a man appeared in the wings. He peeled off his coat, sidled across to the piano, then jabbed out a few chords. A loud whisper to the bass-player ("What's the key?") and he was away. Although three-quarters of the audience must have been oblivious to the fact, Denis Rose was making his come-back.
I think it's forgiveable to begin my review in this rather romantic fashion. Denis rose, after all, is the nearest thing this country has to Bunk Johnson, a half-legendary recluse, the original moving spirit of modern jazz in Britain. I, for one, had never heard him in the flesh before. In the end he played about three or choruses on Take the "A" Train, probing away rather as Tony Crombie does when he gets near a piano - and producing some of the best and most exciting music of the evening. If nothing else had happened at the concert of Poetry and Jazz, sponsored by Live New Departures and presented at St. Pancras Town Hall on the chilly evening of November 27, this climax would have been memorable enough. But it came at the end of a programme of more than usual interest, during which a few heights were scaled, and one or two depths plumbed. The concert was also noteworthy for the sheer dedication of the musicians who took part, most of whom had devoted quite a lot of time to rehearsing. One felt they really cared about what they were doing. A 14-piece band under the direction of Laurie Morgan formed the basis of the evening's music, while no fewer than six poets read from their own works.
The high-spot of the evening was undoubtedly Bobby Wellins's composition, Battle Of Culloden Moor, a longish piece scored for the full orchestra but with improvised passages by a trio consisting of Wellins, Stan Tracy and Laurie Morgan. I've seldom heard Wellins play as well as he did on this occasion, sensitive, almost tender but with explosive forays, while the orchestrated parts hung together well and made up an impressive whole. You could, I suppose, call this "Third Stream" music, although it seemed pleasantly free of much of the pretentiousness that clutters up this genre. This is, in fact, exactly the kind of things which should be broadcast on one of the Jazz Session experimental evenings. The remainder of the music was more conventional, including big band versions of Limehouse Blues (arranged by Peter Myers) and Patti's Blues (arranged by Herman Wilson). The band was naturally fallible - what group of its size wouldn't be after only a few rehearsals - but it drove well most of the time. There were, too, good solos from Dick Heckstall-Smith, Graham Bond and Jimmy Deuchar, among others. And Laurie Morgan drummed intelligently and well.
Earlier on there were sequences by three trombonists (Peter Myers, Herman Wilson, John Mumford) and - but quite separately - Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Not surprisingly the trombonists produced the kind of noises one has heard on LPs by Jay and Kai - and quite competently too, although they were ill-advised to take Django as quite such a snail's pace. I was more impressed by the playing of Dick Heckstall-Smith, undoubtedly one of this country's most trenchant tenor-players. Graham Bond was vehement, too, but largely as a foil, playing the kind of role Eric Dolphy does inside a Charlie Mingus group.
There was not, as it turned out, quite so much poetry-with-jazz as I've expected. In fact, three of the poets - Adrian Mitchell, Ted Milton and Anselm Hollo - read without music at all. Mitchell was, for what my opinion is worth, the best poet on show that night - perspective, witty, imaginative, and able to read without any sense of strain or any posing. Ted Milton - very young rather ingenuous - could easily develop into quite a fair poet (I rather dug his line about "the sixth finger which the other ten obey"). Anselm Hollo only read one poem (long but not enlightening) before he introduced a tape-recording of Gregory Corso. Like Jehovah delivering judgement, Corso's voice floated above our heads, flailing all local beatniks. Time, or so it seemed, stood very still. (I seized the opportunity to read an entry or two in Colin Wilson's Encyclopaedia of Murder, an admirable bedside book for people who share my macabre interests).
Spike Hawkins (at least I think it was he, for I never caught the name) read with a rhythm section. I will, though, say nothing about his performance, for I couldn't make out a word he said. In future he should stand further back from his microphone. Peter Brown, his stage personality almost as amiable as Louis Armstrong's, tried once or twice to shock us. In some ways his brief little squibs (more gags than poems) came across as well as anything - provided he was content to be coarse or funny, or both. Things went awry during his "jazz-poem", Night, which had support from Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith. The technique used was mimetic, the musicians echoing the poet's images. When he talked of groaning, the saxophones groaned; at the mention of a train, we got train-effects. The trouble is that this can only too easily sound comic - and this was, after all, a "serious" poem.
A similar technique (again sounding very Mingus-like) was used behind some of Mike Horovitz's poems. Horovitz, as it happens, went on rather too long (a fatal prerogative of editors - and Horovitz edits New Departures) but he did try two or three experiments. One poem, for instance, was read accompanied only by Dick Heckstall-Smith's tenor sax, the musician and reader alternating, the whole thing sounding very much like the duet by Hoagy Carmichael and Bob Hardaway (using Young Sycamore, by William Carlos Williams) on the Vogue "Jazz Canto" LP. Medieval Satire turned out to be a parody, music as well as words, very similar to the kind of things one finds in "Façade". With The Mad Monk (Stan Tracey at the piano) and Flying Home, Horovitz made more of a head-on attempt at "jazz-poetry", but not, I thought, with a great success. Once he stops sounding like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the word-play seems to shrivel up.
It's easy, of course, to pick faults in affairs of this kind. I have after all, fairly strong ideas about how I think poetry and jazz should go together - which makes me distinctly prejudiced. And I don't go along with the Beat-orientated, heart-on-the-sleeve attitude that many of these poets have. All the same, they care enough to try out their ideas and to risk derision - and they also cared enough about jazz to assemble one of the liveliest band's I've heard for a long time. (An unsung hero of the occasion, incidentally, was John Jack, the Gautama of Dobells, who went sleepless at least two nights a week, urging musicians and poets to keep on rehearsing). Yes, despite, the odd fluff and occasional absurdity, despite - most of all - the trough of boredom carved for us by Gregory Corso, it was all a stimulating evening.
Bob Dawbarn - MELODY MAKER April 14, 1962
The Don Rendell Quintet (Marquee, Saturday) is fast becoming a really popular modern jazz group. Reason? It spurns dome of music's subletlies and concentrates on building excitement. Graham Bond's alto dominates the group, though he is now a more disciplined player. However, for me Rendell remains the star soloist. The rhythm section gets a nice tight sound and Johnny Burch's piano is effective in an unobtrusive way.
MELODY MAKER June 2, 1962
Seems Don Rendell's Quintet knocked them out at the international jazz show Brussels last week. The group will go back for TV and radio in November.
Chris Allen, bandleader, Farnham, Surrey - MELODY MAKER September 8, 1962
|Hooray For Don!|
If modern jazzmen ever hope to enjoy a boom, they should follow the lead given by Don Rendell's Quintet here on Saturday. The group took the stand for their first session before about 200 dancers who stood open-mouthed as they opened with a "far-out" mid-tempo swinger. This left a good 95 per cent of the crowd absolutely cold. This was the testing time. Don quickly realized that this was no jazz club date and also his duty to please the public. Tempos were modified to the more danceable and gradually people started dancing. It was good to see top modernists playing to please the public and not just for their own pleasure.
MELODY MAKER November 17, 1962
|Blues Are Bustin' Out All Over|
Bossa nova may be thing - and the appearance of Getz "Desafinado" in the MM charts underlines this - but the music which is currently drawing the biggest crowds in London clubs these days is plain unadulterated rhythm-n-blues. And the rhythm-n-blues purveyed by Alexis Korner's Blues Inc unit at the Marquee every Thursday night is not music just to listen to - it's music to twist to, jive to, jump to, swing with, and get with. Last Thursday (9) the joint was jumpin' with 800 fervent fans. Now when did a non-trad club in London last do business like that?. The line-up is leader Korner on guitar, Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor), Graham Bond (alto), Johnny Parker (piano), Jack Bruce (bass) and Ginger baker (drums). Says Alexis: - "Basically whatever else we want to do, we are a dance band; we want to play music for dancing". One fascinating aspect of the Blues Inc line-up is that, with the exception of Johnny Parker, all the sidemen have modern associations. A moral somewhere?
MELODY MAKER December 8, 1962
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated may not be the loudest band in the world. But I can't think of a contender on the spur of the moment . . . Disappointed with "Dr. No." I thought it was going to be about Graham Bond.
JAZZ NEWS & REVIEW February 1963
The Flamingo in Wardour Street is a very hospitable place to people in business these days. At one time it used to be quite a job getting in without paying even if you were doing a gig down there and had a double bass on your back ("You may be OK, but how about your friend"). But the other night the brothers Gunnell let me roam freely through the cosy red twilight while the Graham Bond Trio were doing their stuff. In spite of the organ amplifier being on the blink (to me lack of decibels was a welcome change, but I gather Graham missed the amplifier's control over dynamics) the group sounded fine. Fascinating to watch, too with diminutive jack Bruce draping his arms over the shoulders of his bass, as though it was supporting him, during a thunderous drum solo from Ginger Baker. And Graham himself, on piano for one number, ferociously keeping time with his head. No wonder he has such powerful neck muscles.
Bob Dawbarn - MELODY MAKER February 9, 1963
Strong soloists and effectively straightforward arrangements make the Johnny Burch Octet one of the potentially most popular modern groups. At Klooks Kleek, West Hamstead, last week they triumphed over curious acoustics which made Peter Baker's drums almost overpowering and gave Burch's piano a touch of the NAAFI. Graham Bond is, perhaps, the dominating figure, but I was impressed with trumpeter Mike Fallana and and Dick Heckstall-Smith's tenor. Most impressive was trombonist John Mumford, playing better, and more confidently, than I have heard him in the past.
JAZZ NEWS & REVIEW June 13, 1963
Graham Bond still plays the organ with his head, but what's happened to the music? I heard his quartet at the Marquee the other night; it was billed as Rhythm & Blues, of course, (the scene's cure-all), but it was rock 'n' roll. And not very good rock, I'm told by students of the genre.
MELODY MAKER August 24, 1963
Everything cool at the Askona, Switzerland Jazz Festival last weekend - too cool for visiting British musicians. Ian Carr, trumpet with the Don Rendell Quintet, tells us it was so cold he couldn't play his flugelhorn at all because it was so flat. And the sax players had trouble with freezing fingers. Despite the cold, the Joe Harriott Quintet, Don Rendell Quintet (minus Don, who fell ill), Chris Barber Band, Dick Morrissey (tenor) and Graham Bond (alto) scored a big success on the bill, topped by American star Bud Shank.
J. M. Katz, Stanmore, Middlesex - MELODY MAKER December 28, 1964
|Bond Is Best!|
It is high time Graham Bond's group got the recognition it deserves. Bond is far and away the best rhythm-and-blues man in the country. He swings like no other group playing.
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER January 16, 1965
|Backstage With Chuck|
. . . . . During the whole of Graham Bond's act roaring feedback could not be traced, and deafening crackling noises ruined the climax of "Got My Mojo Working". Ginger Baker broke his bass drum pedal in the first number and immediately broke the replacement rushed on stage just as his solo began. At the end of the set Baker snatched up his pedal and smashed it on the floor.
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER August 14, 1965
|Animals Big Band Howls Out A great Festival|
. . . . . On Saturday night the Mark Leeman Five did well, especially with "Blues March", Ronnie Jones and the Blue Jays drew the first real crowd fever of the evening, the T-Bones appeared, then Graham Bond detonated with a violent set that culminated with Ginger Baker's solo on "Camels and Elephants" . . . . .
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER August 20, 1966
"Go Johnny Go!" is the cry echoing round the club circuit as new face Jon Hiseman blows up a storm on drums with the Graham Bond Organisation. At London's Marquee last week, Jon proved to be a more than a worthy successor to the departed Ginger Baker, but a fantastic technician and an individualist who is already radically altering the sound of the band. Jon Himself is also making the transition from a pure modern jazz drummer, and judging from the audience reaction, he can now knock out drum happy fans as well as all the drummers who come to hear him play. Jon was featured on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", and also contributed fine drumming to "Wade In The Water", the group's next single. Chris Barber joined in "Night Time Is The Right Time". Earlier Mike Fallana was featured on trumpet on his own composition "Toes", and Dick Heckstall-Smith blew tenor and soprano combined on "Oh Baby".
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER July 22, 1967
|The Power And The Glory Of Graham Bond|
Loud, hypnotic and neurotic is the music of Graham Bond. It wails, screams and tears at the senses for minutes on end, demanding either complete attention or complete rejection. There are no half measures about Bond music. At Blaises Club, London last week the group musically shocked the night club crowd, a crowd usually hardened to most modern forms. Upon analyzing the group, Graham is seen as the constantly urging demoniac power, inspiring his musicians to endless toil with harsh, violent vocals and organ. Jon Hiseman's beautiful drumming is equally important, combinating speed and power with invention and taste. Next comes tenorist Dick Heckstall-Smith, sometimes blowing two instruments at once creating and Eastern drone effect above the crashing organ and rolling waves of drums.
Ann Moses - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS September 28, 1968
. . . . . Buddy Miles, former drummer for the Electric Flag, opened this week at the Whiskee-a-go-go [sic] with his newly formed group - Buddy Miles Express . . . For the last number of the night, the group on the Whiskee stage consisted of Jimi Hendrix (lead guitar), Graham Bond (organ), Buddy Miles (rhythm guitar), Noel Redding (bass), Mitch Mitchell (drums), and Eric Burdon (vocals)!
Richard Williams - MELODY MAKER October 25, 1969
Bond nearly blew it. The extravagant return of the Great Graham almost turned into a fiasco - but happily everything came out all right. His "comeback" concert at the Albert Hall last Friday night was not well attended, but the audience was warm and happy to be there. Pete Brown's Piblokto were well received and played some very nice things including a pastoral 11/4 number called "Country Morning", with a neat bass solo, and Pete's version of "She Moved Through The Fair", retitled "The Fire Song". When Brown introduced Bond, the spotlights swung up to the console of the mighty, majestic Albert Hall pipe organ, and there he was - hands clasped above his head, clad in a long red robe. But instead of playing some straight Bach to blow our minds, Graham chose to make it up as he went along. And what came out wasn't very pretty. He doodled around, veering erratically between Bach and the Blues, and almost lost the audience in the process. However, everyone forgave him after the interval when he brought on his new band, the Initiation, to play a solid set. The sound, with two saxes most of the time, has echoes of the old Organisation, but it's not quite as tough and uncompromising. He played some of the old things ("Long Legged Baby" and "Wade In The Water" were two) before launching into newer material like "Love Is The Law", which had a startling resemblance to some of Tim Hardin's songs, and a raga featuring Dave Howard on sitar and Dave Sheen on tables, joined by Graham on alto and Dave Usher on tenor. Then, for the final set-piece, the band was joined on stage by Ginger Johnson's African Drums, and a long percussion number featuring dancer Diane Stewart, ensued. It wasn't exactly a triumphal return, but it was a pleasant, sometimes enlightening evening with a musical innovator who still has a lot to say.
M. C. - BIRMINGHAM MAIL January 13, 1970
|A Galaxy Of Talent, But . . .|
The combined biographies of the artists on stage read like a Who's Who what was good in 1969. Traffic, Cream, Blind Faith. But for all this galaxy of talent, including Birmingham's Stevie Winwood, the music they produced was disappointing. The result, was at the best, ten individuals playing together. The music was stereotyped and repetitive because it was only through the use of musical clichés and the constant repetition of phrases that these ten individualists could find each other. Best song of the evening was "I go B.I.A." where the strict form of the song precluded any of thehesistant improvisation which marred the rest of the evening.
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER January 17, 1970
On the day of the first Jumbo Jet flight across the Atlantic, another first flight was greeted with a roar of approval on Monday night. It came at the end of a hectic and frequently thrilling fly-past by Ginger Baker's Airforce at Birmingham Town Hall. The all-star band, ten strong and powered by three ram-jet drummers proved a great success and said Ginger later: "It was a good gig. It's a drag we are only doing two concerts. This has gone so well, we may do a few more. But there were a few tense moments as the the line-up, including Steve Winwood, Phil Seaman, Graham Bond and Denny Laine, got to grips with their freshly-minted material. One one up-tempo rave-up the horn section had difficulty getting back to the main theme and a period of rather obvious confusion began to sap confidence among musicians and audience. One lad near me shouted rather prematurely: "Bilge"! But somebody else replied: "All right, you go and do better". The band hastily recovered itself and tore into Harold McNair's fast and complicated "Da Da Man" without a sign of discomfort. Despite these minor goofs there was some fine solo playing by McNair and Chris Wood on flutes and saxes particularly. The rhythm section were just too "much". Remi Kabaka on African drums added al kinds of extra rhythms and Phil darted about the stage playing his regular drums, timpani and a kind of obscene-looking rhythm log. Ginger's playing was the best I have heard from him in many moons. Seated right behind him I was able to observe his boots slamming into the twin bass drums, keeping time with his left foot and patterns with the right. Sticks battered snare and tomtom heads like pistons and the stage shook. He played an interesting duet with Phil alongside Remi on an African chant number and finally convinced the crowd that Airforce is a band that should fly back soon with a thunderous solo on "Do What You Like".
Gordon Coxhill - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS January 17, 1970
|Air Force A Flying Success|
Air Force, the group that isn't a group, took off on Monday night at Birmingham Town Hall, and despite a few scaring moments when one or two of the pilots almost crash-dived, the exercise was an unqualified success. It was a first class display of powerhouse music, big band stuff that depended on "head" arrangements, made up almost as they went along. Those of you who see Airforce at the Royal Albert Hall this week will doubt wonder, along with the Brum audience, how they can think of disbanding straight after, and maybe never play together again. As Stevie Winwood said to me in the dressing room when it was all over, "It seems a terrible shame to spend three weeks rehearsing until we almost dropped and then to play only twice. "But none of us would want to look upon it as a permanent thing, the whole idea of it is just to gather some musicians around who can bounce off each other. "I really enjoyed myself tonight, there was no feeling of responsibility, just some nice music and I think the audience really dug it". He was so right! If anything was lacking from this debut and penultimate performance, it was any semblance of stage presence, and gloss but to my mind that's not a bad thing, and you don't really expect jazz players to parade about like so many acrobats. The accent was on percussion, with Ginger Baker never letting up for a second, his pale face often pointed at the floor for five minutes at a time, but those flaying sticks seemed to be everywhere. Phil Seaman, often said to be Ginger's mentor, almost succeeded in making his marraccas heard but on kettle drums, he was something else again. Remi Kabaka from Ghana, excelled on his massive African drums, and wrote what was to my mind the highlight of the night, a beautiful African chant, sung by the equally delicious Jeanette Jacobs, a former vocalist with Dr. John The Night Tripper. On saxes were Graham Bond whose talent is as vast as his girth. Harold McNair who first delighted my ears on a Donovan album when he was playing flute, and former Traffic man Chris Wood. There was Steve Winwood on organ of course, and while that was in fine form, his voice on his own composition, "Do What You Like" seemed rather laboured. Denny Laine, who is going to do big things again this year, sang his song, "Man Of Constant Sorrow" and very moving it was too. Ric Grech's bass didn't come over too well from my position at the side of the hall, but on a night like this, it was the overall sound that mattered; no stars, no front man and no backing group.
Chris Welch - MELODY MAKER January 24, 1970
One of the pleasures of Airforce is seeing Ginger Baker playing at his best. At their Royal Albert hall, London concert last week, the band had wiped out much of the roughness that affected their Birmingham debut, and earned an ovation. There is so much more they can do, it seems foolish of certain critics to suggest Airforce should be "grounded". If some of the riffs were repetitious, the sheer rhythmic pulse, which only Ginger can inspire, was enough to lift them along with cheering force. Denny Laine almost stole the show with his solo spot when the band took off on a kind of country hoe down. Remi Kabaka blew up a typhoon on "BIA", a mixture of African and Western drumming behind Denny and Jeanette Jacobs' vocals. Ginger was playing a lot of snare drum, and during his later, major solo, he played beautifully - inventive, flowing with none of the "brickwalls" which can affect his playing in less productive circumstances. Ginger is in his element with a band to play FOR instead of against. Producer Jimmy Miller recorded the whole show. Let's hope he got it all down. This is a band that should be kept together. Keep 'em flying!
Bob Dawbarn - MELODY MAKER March 7, 1970
Despite the usual blasé Marquee audience doing their waxworks imitations, Graham Bond recreated much of the old excitement during his stint last Tuesday. The Bond fingers have lost none of their cunning on the organ and his alto is as individual as ever. Apart from the excellent drummer, I have some reservations about the rest of Initiation who seem unable to keep up with the leader's invention or ability to build tension.
MELODY MAKER March 21, 1970
Graham Bond's session at the Roundhouse Sun festival turned into an all-star jam with Graham (alto), Brian Auger (organ), Jack Bruce and Rick Grech (basses) and Mitch Mitchell (drums).
Roger Ryan - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS APRIL 4, 1970
|Airforce Woe Ends As Wow!|
Sunday night at the Lyceum was a disaster from start to finish for Ginger Baker's Airforce. It all started on Sunday morning when the band were returning from a gig at the Le Bourget Airport the previous night. First of all a wheel came off their van, and after this delay all their equipment was impounded by French customs officials at Calais. The customs demanded £3,000 to release the gear, but obviously the band did not have that kind of money with them, and so they rushed back to England and set about borrowing some equipment, which included Mitch Mitchell's drum kit, for the show. It was not until 9.45 pm that the band got started, 75 minutes late. But that is not all that went wrong. African drummer Remi Kabaka, who has been with Airforce since its formation, was unable to appear and Trevor Burton and Alan White, who went out to find guitarist Denny Laine failed to return, although Denny turned up just before the show got started. Once they finally got going, Ginger's depleted "squadron" blasted their way through a five number first set, which finished with the Cream classic "Sunshine Of Your Love, with Ginger and Phil Seaman featured n a drum duet, which earned them a standing ovation. After the interval, during which the roadies had been busy adjusting equipment, the band played a six number set, the quality of which was far higher than the first. The roughness which dominated the first half had gone, and right from the first number, "Da Da Man", the capacity audience knew that this was the Airforce they had come to hear. After playing another Cream number, "Sweet Wine", and Remi Kabaka's "I Go BIA", the band closed with Ginger's "Do What You Like", which of course featured a solo from the maestro. Amid a barrage of cheers, wolf whistles and shouts of "more", Ginger mumbled the title of a song and they lurched into an African-style number. I do not know what it was called but the audience certainly enjoyed it, and when I left just before 12 midnight they were merrily dancing into Monday morning. One thing is certain, despite all the hang-ups Airforce proved beyond a shadow of doubt that whatever circumstances they perform under, they give their best, as only first-rate musicians can.
MELODY MAKER May 2, 1970
Ginger Baker's Airforce were tremendous at the Roundhouse, but the MM's fighter squadron of Wentzell and Welch would have liked an air-lift home . . .
Bob Dawbarn - MELODY MAKER May 2, 1970
Ginger Baker's Air Force brought the Pop Proms to a fitting climax on Saturday - both musically and in the way they drew final ovations from a packed audience. Ginger's band is, to me, symptomatic of the way popular music has grown up in the last couple of years. Its music not only has the surface excitement of all good pop, but much of the playing has an underlying subtlety and the arrangements frequently have a complexity that would have sent audiences scurrying for cover a couple of years back. And it's something of an achievement on Ginger's part to hold together a bunch of stars that includes Graham Bond, Harold McNair, Denny Laine and Rick Grech. The music is often rough and chaotic in the sense that Charles Mingus is chaotic and the occasional goof doesn't really detract from the overall effect of adventurousness. And I personally, would go a long way to hear Ginger doing his compere bit. I should add that the much improved Jody Grind drew enormous applause for their set.
Roy Carr - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS May 23, 1970
|In Germany, At Dusseldorf Festival. . . .|
. . . . . . Saturday proved reasonably peaceful. Ginger Baker, as an individual, proved to be the hit of the day. The actual billing read "Airforce (Blind Faith)". Still well into the cream thing, the audience went wild when the band broke into the familiar riff of "Sunshine Of Your Love" . . . . .
Richard Green - NEW MUSCAL EXPRESS May 30, 1970
. . . . . Air Force played for about two hours and were phenomenal! Ginger is obviously the driving force with his superb command of the drums, but the massive squadron on stage with him helps generate a powerhouse of noise that really gets the audience going. It took a little time to get really together but when it did, it was tremendous. Denny Laine recaptured a lot of the Moody Blues' feel on "I Just Don't Want To Go On Without You" and got a lot of loud applause - obviously quite a few Moodies fans about there. Bob Dylan's "Million Dollar Bash" had a new treatment that had Ginger going berserk and newly-married Graham Bond producing some fine sounds from his organ. The three girl singers provided excellent vocals that were too good to call backings. Rick Grech's "You look Like You Could Use Some Rest", from the new album, had graham on alto sax contrasting nicely with the brass. After the tepid reviews I've been seeing about the group, I was happy too see them all proved wrong . . . . .
Alan Smith - NEW MUSCAL EXPRESS May 30, 1970
. . . . . Reports from the second and last day of Plumpton are that Ginger Baker's Air Force were in fine form, as were Gracious, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack and Steamhammer. . . . .
Dennis Detheridge - MELODY MAKER February 27, 1971
|Airforce's Last, Riotous Gig|
All good things must come to an end, and true to this tradition, Ginger Baker's Airforce was finally grounded at the Belfry at Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, on Saturday. It must surely be something of a tragedy for British rock that we will never hear this band again. It was rich in talent and promised so much. At the Belfry they did a one hour warm-up session, took a short break, and came back for a 90-minute work-out that built up into a frenzy of musical excitement. Propelled by the indefatigable Baker, Airforce were the complete band, possessing all-round strength vocally and instrumentally, as well as making instant visual impact. Graham Bond and the other horns wailed and wailed and Ginger paid a thunderous farewell to his brainchild. He never put a stick wrong and had an uncanny sympathy with Speedy Acquaye on African drums. The band was given a great ovation from an audience who will boast for years to come that they had the privilege of seeing Ginger baker's Airforce in full flight.
Tony McNally - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS May 8, 1971
Only a few months ago Airforce eventually demobbed at the Belfry, Sutton Coldfield. Many of the people there thought it a great honour that they should see the last gig. But they must have felt even prouder last week, when Graham Bond played one of his first dates with his new band, Magick. Graham, Steve Gregory (flute, tenor); Diane Stewart (vocals, percussion); Gasper Lawal (percussion), all played there before and now with this new band they still put over their musical feelings in a big way, but are slightly less inhibited. Pugwash Weathers, drums and Graham Hedley Williams, guitarist have been brought in and the whole thing blends to produce some exciting sounds. Bond still dominates the band, with the strength of his organ and occasional blow on alto. The numbers are based with a strong African rhythm and progress along simple riffs, with little evidence of set arrangements. Although there is nothing great about the vocals, the soloists come forward and do what they want. The freedom within this band makes them happy, and it is passed onto the audience. The Belfry was only half full, but the crowd were enthusiastic after a good set by Galliard, who could do big things. Magick can become a little overpowering, but more important is the full effective force of their act.
Michael Watts - MELODY MAKER August 14, 1971
No doubt about it. Jack Bruce took the honours from Larry Coryell during their stint together at Ronnie Scott's last week. The reason were both musical and related to the esteem in which he is held by audiences in this country. On the Wednesday that I went down it was at least half full with students and heads who were bopping to the music; it made a pleasant change from the usually staid atmosphere that prevails there. If they were expecting a re-run of Cream riffs and tunes they would have come sadly amiss, however. The material consisted of large chunks taken from Jack's recent album "Harmony Row": there was "Smiles And Grins", "Can You Follow" and "Folk Song", with loose improvisations of other numbers. This was mixed in with Coryell's own writing, which was emphatically rock-structured; it will all be heard on his next album. I caught the second half of the second set, with Coryell playing delicate, understated guitar on Bruce's "Folk Song", which has probably the prettiest melody on the album. Then they moved into the "The Great Escape", with Bruce propelling things along a catchy sustained riff, before closing with a number that had the title (apparently) of "Give Me Power". Coryell is a highly inventive guitarist and blessedly restrained in his use of volume. In fact, restraint seemed to be the keyword to his playing. As often as not his guitarwork was more of an embroidery on Bruce's bass riffs. Jack took charge of the numbers, occasionally moving up front to the mike for a vocal spot, but usually dominating the proceedings from the back. With precision and in a style that in texture suited admirably the air of delicate control onstage, it play rock music intelligently and without resorting to excesses and histrionics. The set that followed was not quite as successful. Bruce brought on his old mate Graham Bond, who tended to be too overpowering. All in all, however, the three-piece combination worked well. It will be interesting to see Bruce and Coryell again after they come back from their Belgium dates with Mitch Mitchell, who's more of a pushing drummer than Marshall.
Ray Telford - SOUNDS September 4, 1971
|Country Club Benefit For UCS|
|Bruce, Spedding, Bond - fine blowing|
Rock and roll shared aa platform with strong politics at the Hampstead Country Club on Thursday and it was a triumph on both counts. In short, the music coming from Jack Bruce, Chris Spedding, John Marshall, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Graham Bond contained all the strength and determination of the cause they were supporting - the plight of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. I none way or another it was quite an emotional experience, again musically, although there were a few mindless idiots in attendance who missed the whole point of the project by demanding only music and to hell with helping UCS. It was good to hear Bruce, Bond and Heckstall-Smith blowing together again. Jack Bruce was as confident and articulate as ever on bass and was nicely supported through the set by the very loose yet together drumming of John Marshall. Chris Spedding, too, contributed his fir share and, to me at least, he works better in a group of this kind where he can switch effortlessly from a crackling rhythm guitar to helping out the organ with a few complimentary licks. Among the more instantly recognizable songs were "Rope Ladder To The Moon", "Politician" and "We're Going Wrong", along with numbers taken from Bruce's second solo album. It was obvious that there hadn't been a great deal of rehearsal among those concerned because there were slip ups under the smooth surface which would never have happened otherwise but it certainly was one of the slickest ever jam sessions I've heard in a long time.
Chris Charlesworth - MELODY MAKER September 11, 1971
|Jumping Jack's Flash|
Judging by the weather this week, the title of Saturday's free concert in Hyde Park - "Farewell To Summer" - was a little premature. And that's my only criticism of an afternoon of excellent music, well organized and efficiently promoted. The sun was shining at mid-day and about 60,000 gathered on the Queen's lush garden. Many had slept the night in the park to ensure a good seat at the front of the stage. Formerly Fat Harry opened the proceedings with a tight but uninteresting set. They were followed by King Crimson, who played the shortest set I've ever heard from the new group. Choosing from their material from the softer numbers in their catalogue, it was singer Boz who stole the honours. They ended with "Schizoid Man", which has become their anthem, and really deserved to carry on longer. As it was probably Crimson's last London concert for some time, it was a pity the cheers for more went unheeded. Presumably the strict regulations about playing in the park (I remember Canned Heat being "switched off" last year) prevented more. Roy Harper may not have been everybody's cup of tea, but he provided a break between the electricity of Crimso and Jack Bruce. Jack Bruce's name alone no doubt attracted the crowd and the new band he brought with him fulfilled all expectations. With Chris Spedding on guitar, John Marshall on drums, Graham Bond on keyboards, and art Themen on sax, the group mixed with rock and jazz superbly. Bruce again proved he is the master of the bass guitar. His technique is so good that the bass becomes a lead instrument within the group. He chose material old and new, from slow blues to lively rock and, surprisingly, included the Cream favourite "Politician". John Marshall's funky drumming, Chris Spedding's well trained guitar and Graham Bond's contribution from the organ, all combinated with Jack's vocals to climax an afternoon of both exciting and inventive music.
Roy Carr - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS September 11, 1971
|Hyde Park Concert|
After the confusion that reigned at Weeley. it has become quite apparent that you don't need every band that lives, breathes and plugs in to stage a large yet still highly enjoyable event. Last Saturday's freebee in Hyde Park, once again, demonstrated that all that is required is a couple of top contrasting attractions, the same quota of supporting artists and an experienced stage crew to provide at least six hours of releaxed music in open air. The combination of this all-important chemistry was responsible for both King Crimson and Jack Bruce's Band presenting extremely enjoyable sets before an appreciative crowd. Thankfully, there were no obvious hang-ups and each band was able to perform in a convivial atmosphere . . . . . Even though he included a re-work of an old Cream song for old-time sake, Jack Bruce to his credit has managed to shake off most of his past associations, to concentrate on his new career. Looking extremely happy and with Graham Bond, John Marshall and Chris Spedding for musical company, Bruce maintained the stature he has built up over nearly a decade on the international scene. His first offering was a hard rockin' original called "You Burned The Tables On Me" and while he demonstrated that he was indeed in fine voice, he thundered out a strong bass riff while Graham Bond played some rolling and very rocky interjections at the piano. A number in 7/4, "Smiles And Grins" followed which had Spedding knocking out some nice quotes while John Marshall maintained the time signature with apparent ease at the drums. In complete contrast, a rather doomy interpretation of Carla Bley's "Detective Writer's Daughter" lasted for some time and included a cross-pattern of improvised contribution from Bond on alto, Spedding and Bruce. Among the other numbers that followed tenor saxist Art Themen swelled the band to a quintet during an excellent old Eddie Boyd blues standard. Obviously well satisfied with his set and the crowd's appreciation, Bruce thanked everyone for attending and we all trundled off home.
Ray Telford - SOUNDS September 11, 1971
|Beauty And The Bruce|
Despite some newspapers being bent on stirring it up between the hippies and Hell's Angels, Saturday's Hyde Park event with Formerly Fat Harry, King Crimson, Roy Harper and Jack Bruce's new band was only responsible for six hours of good music and a lot of people enjoying themselves. Bill-topper Bruce was as impeccable as ever. He has around him now what I consider to one of the best bands on this side of the Atlantic and they proved it as they literally stormed through every number. Opening with "You Burned The Tables On Me", the distinguished voice and bass guitar playing and the equally unmistakeable guitar playing of Chris Spedding cut through magnificently. It looked as though nostalgia played a big part in this Bruce comeback. I say comeback because, to the rock fans present, this was the Jack Bruce of Cream and he had at last come home to them. "Politician" hadn't changed much since the days of Clapton, Baker and Bruce played it and although it was so obvious that this was no Cream, I guess that a lot of people were closing their eyes and imagining. With Jack were once again Graham Bond on organ and saxes, John Marshall, drums, Chris Spedding, guitar and Art Themen, saxes. They were much better rehearsed since I last saw them and Chris Spedding in particular was in fine form as he and Bruce took the band to towering heights. Some of the audience, though, strangely enough, couldn't take it and a steady steam of mournful faces took their leave of the concern after the band's second number. The reason I never fathomed but I hope those who did exit have a chance to redeem themselves at a future gig.
Dick Meadows - SOUNDS October 2, 1971
I suppose the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders will be glad of the money and that's the main thing. Don't misunderstand, this Jack Bruce Band benefit concert was a nice one, but 10 hours of darkness of Bumpers in London was a bit of a strain. Unless you are into carrots or something. This was the second UCS effort by Bruce and only the third time his new band has worked live. It was also the first of a series of combined UCS/BIT concerts. That Bruce is to take band on the road is good news indeed, for on Sunday they were full of the power and fire one has come to associate with the bassman. I don't think I can ever remember being disappointed by Bruce's bass playing and it was the same here. He was majestic and unpredictable at the same time, happy to play the blues, a ballad or edge towards the improvisations of jazz. His understanding with Chris Spedding seemed immediate, while his old boss Graham Bond commuted to great effect between organ and piano. "You Burned TheTables On Me" and "Letter Of Thanks" were outstanding numbers with John Marshall pinning the sound down on drums at the back. The arrival of saxophonist Art Themen heralded the start of a happy, high-flying close to the set.
Ian Middleton - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS October 2, 1971
In an effort to discard its teenybopper image, Bumpers, in London's West End, last Sunday afternoon threw the first of a series of progressive rock concerts. Promoted by Evensong, the proceeds go to UCS, BIT and other organizations. Starting early afternoon and going through to Monday morning, the main attraction was obviously Jack Bruce's new band. Scheduled to appear around 9.30 p.m., the band finally went on stage an hour later. A shame as towards the end of the set many people had left to catch their last trains and buses. But the music was well worth the wait. A few blues runs by Graham Bond on piano as a warm up, then suddenly . . . Wham! Straight into an exciting version of "You Burned The Tables On Me" which set the audience afire. From the very first bar, Bruce and his band hit you musicially in the guts. The sound was solid yet allowing individual freedom. Throughout it all, Jack's bass was the fulcrum of the rhythm. The beautiful about the band is it doesn't blast you all the time; it give you the chance to recover from the heavier numbers with searing solos by playing numbers in a quieter vein. "Detective Writer's Daughter" was such a number with Bond switching to organ and alto. The piece built up strongly before he launched into his solo. The number illustrated one of the best aspects of the band - a splendid use of dynamics. Throughout the set, jack was in fine voice, be it on ballads or rock numbers. His bass playing was at times bordering on the incredible. From his recent album, "Harmony Row", came the fast "Letter Of Thanks". Guitarist Chris Spedding wailed away an weaved a musical cobweb of sheer delight. For the lovely ballad, "Folk Song", Jack took over the piano stool whilst Bond played sustaining chords on organ; Spedding on acoustic guitar and drummer Marshall using brushes. Brought up on jazz, each member of the band is aware of the importance of dynamics and the use of light and shade in music. Their interplay is very rewarding; happens spontaneously and creates an excitement few other bands obtain. Guest soloist was Art Themen on tenor. He came on for "Verdegree" (at last that sounded like the title) and played a lovely slow rolling blues built up to Spedding screaming around the frets of his guitar. The real high spot of the evening was the final number, "Powerhouse Sod". A lengthy work-out, everyone had the chance to shine. And shine they did. Drummer John Marshall had been laying down some beautiful rhythms during the set and his playing was sympathetic and complimentary to Bruce's bass. During his solo here, he went into some great polyrhythms.
Mark Plummer - MELODY MAKER October 2, 1971
It's good to see rock musicians taking a positive stand in politics for once, not just talking about the revolution but getting up and playing a gig to benefit the men at UCS like Jack Bruce and others did at London's Bumpers Club on Sunday. Jack Bruce knows what the men in Glasgow face if the docks close downs, but one gets the feeling that benefit are really only there to benefit the bands playing as much as the men they are meant to be helping. Enough said, for Bruce's music has a lot in common with Glasgow and the working class culture with its strong melody lines and honesty. At Bumpers he used his semi-permanent band with Graham Bond on Organ, piano and occasional sax, ace guitarist Chris Spedding, John Marshall on Drums, and towards the end of the set Art Themen on tenor sax. Their music lays somewhere between straight heavy rock music and looser side of jazz blowing, without losing the beauty of either or isolating a rock audience. Pete Brown and Piblikto, Audience, Renaissance and Sattva, all played competent sets before Jack Bruce, but I'm afraid none of them hat the extra something that makes a set stick out like Bruce's.
Pete Matthews - MELODY MAKER January 15, 1972
|Bond and Brown|
Watch out Brigitte, there's a new BB on the scene: Bond and Brown. Following the demise of Magick and Piblikto! Graham Bond and Pete Brown are teaming up regularly after many a year on the road for the first time since their poetry and jazz days in the early 60s. They chose London's Temple on Friday to unveil their new venture. Bond, looking fit and relatively slim, deposited a carton of take-away squid at his side and waded into "Jam In F". Pete's trumpet giving way to talking drums as they picked up speed. The hyper-funky "Freaky Beak" brought the best out of the squid squad's rhythm section - Old Pibloktian Ed Spevock on drums and bassist "Lyle" Harper (ex-Gass and Juicy Lucy). But microphone trouble intervened, redenering vocals and sitter-in Dave Thompson's soprano inaudible on the "tell it like it is" tale of the ins and outs of the shark-in-fested music biz. A lot of momentum was lost on "Travelling Blues" while the sound system was battered into shape, despite some friendly guitar from a member of Flying Fortress, but Brown's "Computer" - a feature for lead and rhythm drums - kept the percussion heads happy before the combo steamed out in style with "Twelve Gates To The City". Graham's wife Diane joining the joyful vocal and generally shaking a leg and tambourines. You don't have to consult the cards to foresee that with a little more rehearsal this package could offer a lot of entertainment, showcasing as it does old and new faces, not a little humour and a load of jumping music - the latter especially subtly dominated the proceedings with some very tasteful keyboard work. Watch out especially for his wah-wah piano and completely independent right handed organ work.
John Sivyer - Melody Maker April 15, 1972
|Bond and Brown|
They're the antithesis of synthesis. I suppose by comparison with today's plastic music they sound incomplete, unfinished. But they're real people playing what they like - you can believe in them as individuals. Enormous legendary Bond - mad wiry Brown - a smiling bass player from Juicy Lucy - handsome drummer from Piblokto and gypsy daughter, Mrs Graham Bond. Just 36 arrived - to hear of course "Love Is The Law" as good as ever. I remember in'66, Bond with Ginger and Jack Bruce playing in an enormous aircraft hanger at Tangmore and filling it with sound. The management tried to refuse us entry until we removed our CDN Badges - yes, Bond's known good days and better days than today. But with his own inimitable brand of music - this man is a musician where others only play at youthful games of pretend. I forget how many Bond bands I've seen, but every time he's so damn committed it's unbelievable. And yet I can't help comparing this band to the Boots story, Diary of a Loser Musician, even to the way they will play for a percentage of the door, and from 36 people at ten bob a time, that's not a whole lot of bread! But it seems like a virtue to me in these days of massive concerts and enormous sums of money. Perhaps it has something to do with jazz. And Bond still plays jazz. His music is arguably best when it's played to a small but enthusiastic audience. And Bond I think knows this, unconsciously turning away anyone who isn't committed either by reason or by chance, playing small venues. Brown still writes piercing indictments of the system which Bond now sets to music, and somehow they complement each other exactly. I wonder what strange circumstance pushed these two together? Anyway - I think it's great - great to have PEOPLE making real solid music.
Valerie Wilmer -Melody Maker May 13, 1972
. . . . . Graham Bond also sat in for the Roundhouse, but it was the unrelenting resilience of the two sensitive drummers and the exuberance of his two black girl singers that spurred Dr John and to his tumulterous reception . . . . .
Danny Holloway - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS May 13, 1972
. . . . . Dr. John brought an entourage of 12 including Graham Bond and Chris Mercer on saxes, Ronnie Baron on keyboards and a couple of former Ikettes as back-up singers . . . . .
Pete Matthews - MELODY MAKER June 24, 1972
|Bond and Brown|
Despite the number of new musicians around, judging by the success of bands like Argent, it's never to late for the old guard to make it; hopefully there's still room for Bond and Brown, leading contenders for the dues-payers of the decade award, who played the Marquee on Friday. The addition of excellent ex-Paladin guitarist Derek Foley and a new PA has beefed up their sound and allows more varied arrangements to be forged from the horns and drums. In deference to being part of "An Evening With Blues" Pete and graham warmed up their vocal chords on Travelling (New Used Jews) Blues", before storming into "Makumbe", an Afro-Gospel number written by bassist Lyle Harper. Graham's wife Diane sang over a rattle of percussion from her congas, Pete's talking drums and drummer Ed Spevock's cowbell, before powerful three-part harmonies crashed in to lift off and push Graham's pounding piano solo into a funky orbit. Old favourites and new songs followed apace: "Lost Tribe" took "A Horse With No Name" into a Biblically parched setting; "(Got A Letter From A) Computer" chugged electronically into a crazed solo guitar piece of fuzz-wah harmonics and spaghetti-fingered strumming, all neatly wrapped up by a drum battle. Off their album followed "Ig The Pig", a typically strutting Bond composition. Appropriately, "Ig" turned into "Freaky Beak", the warning about the pin-striped minds that lurk behind the whiskery and flowered-shirted facades of business heads, before the psychotic final number "Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes", complete with some tight, chunky riffing from (Pete's) trumpet and sax.
Ph. Fosse - Rock & Folk June 1972
|PETE BROWN et GRAHAM BOND au Golf-Drouot|
C'est au Golf-Drouot que Pete Brown et Graham Bond avalent choisi de se produire le temps de leur bref passage a Paris. Contrairement a toute attente, le succes poulaire ne fut pas aussi important que prevu et bien des habitués bouderent le Golf ce jour-la. Est-ce un signe, mais j'avoue que je suis personnellement reste perplexe quant. A la musique de Graham Bond. Le public, pris a contrepied n'a que tres rarement accroche a la musique bizarre et par trop folle de l'Anglais. Sans construction, ni style précis et surtout tres forte, trop meme, la musique de Graham Bond n'a pas enthousiasme les jeunes presents. La chant eur trompettiste Pete Brown ne m'a, quant a lui, pas du tout convaincu. Le chanteur fut mauvais, sans aucun feeling, avec une voix criarde, provocante, hargneuse, presque insoutenable. Pete Brown trompettiste sembla un instant rattraper le Pete Brown chanteur. La trompette sonna mieux d'entrée, assez soul, le doigte de Pete Brown assura de tres bons solos qui malherureusement se degraderent rapidement pour tomber dans une succession de notes inaudibles. Les interventions de Diana Bond ne releverent pas, helas, le niveau du spectacle. Sa voix, criarde comme celle de Pete Brown, peu melodieuse, acide meme par moments apporta tout de meme un certain soutien au phrase de Pete. Il n'y a vraiment pas grandchose a retenir de ce spectacle, sinon un mortel ennui. Rapidement, la sale plongea dans une demi-torpeur et il devient evident que le public repoussait totalement cette musique. Dommage, vraiment. On etait en droit d'attendre beaucoup mieux de celebrites comme Graham Bond et Pete Brown. Dommage egalement que tant d'energie et de talent soient gaspilles pour un resultat aussi mediocre. Le travail devrait pourtant permettre d'obtenir quelque chose de valable. Est-ce delibere ou simple passage a vide, je l'ignore. Quoi qu'll en soit, je souhaite le revoir et assister enfin a un spectacle total, de qualite et concret.
Martin Lewis - NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS July 1, 1972
|Bond And Brown|
The amalgamation of Graham Bond and pete Brown has been destined since their various musical associations began a dozen years ago. Their first London gig since their formation and recent inclusion of guitarist was fittingly held at the Marquee, scene of many past triumphs. And what a joy! Bond, looking plumper, happier, more relaxed, teasing rhythmic riddles on organ with one hand, the other fingering his alto sax, and blowing solos - diamond hard - and as clear-cut as crystal perspex. The "New Used Jews Blues" included Pete Brown playing a delightfully innocent trumpet, and the whole thing was underlined by the other superb instrumentalists. Ed Spevock - "our Jewish reggae drummer" - has a solid sok-a-bok sound in perfect harmony with Brown's own talking drums, and Graham's very delectable conga-playing wife, Diane. Lisle Harper's bass was subduet, and dramatically correct, punctuating each phrase with items from his jazz-based syntax. It was on Brown's "Received a Letter From a Computer" and Graham's Dr. John-dedicated "Irwin Fig The Pig" that new, ex-Paladin guitarist Derek Foley started to impress. It's not easy playing lead to Graham Bond's unpredictable keyboard style, but he seems to be developing a strong sliding stride that matches the former's free -stepping finger dance. Certainly his youth boosts Bond & Brown to a more succulent sound. The audience lapped up all they were served, and clearly would have appreciated a longer sitting.