JAZZ MONTHLY - UK - November 1961
|Don Rendell - A New Phase|
"You know me" said Don Rendell, "Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Allen Eager, Stan Getz, Brew Moore, in fact anyone stylistically descended from Pres, those are the tenor players who used to be my idols. I used to try to sound like them or at least to play in their style. well, all that's changed now and I don't even play the records I have at home by those musicians anymore. I haven't turned against them, it's just that my interests are centred elsewhere. About a year ago I found myself listening more and more to John Coltrane and it seemed to me that this was the right way to play tenor. It's something I can't really explain, it just happened. A well as Coltrane there are a lot of others whose work is stimulating. Rollins of course, Johnny Griffin, and have you heard Stanley Turrentine? It's very exciting to have this new prospect open up in front of you."
We were sitting in a pub after a recording session, featuring Don's new quintet, had come to a successful conclusion in a nearby studio. It was the first time I had heard the group and in fact, the first time I'd seen Don for nearly two years. "My musical outlook is different now" he said when we met "but everything else is still the same". His sense of humour remains unchanged; outrageous statements are made in a serious, pokerfaced manner. "I used to be branded as a technique. 'That Don Rendell' people would say 'he's just all technique. Lots of notes all over the instrument' Well, I've got away from that now. I'll let you know a secret. I didn't practice for three years". On a more serious note he began to explain why and how his overall sound has altered since his allleginces have moved from Lester Young and Al Cohn to Coltrane and Griffin. "The first thing I did was change my instrument. When you've been playing a Conn for ten years you get stuck with a Conn sound. I used to get a muffled, cloudy sort of tone. People used to come up to me and say 'You got a muffled tone' and I'd say 'Yes, I like it'. Nowadays I'm getting the kind of sound I want, the one that fits in with the concept of the group and with my own musical ideals, and I find it's a lot easier to play that way!" The group itself is young, enthusiastic and continually improving. Partnering Don in the front line is Graham Bond, an alto player of tremendous individuality. Before the session, and before we met the remaining members of the quintet, I admitted that I had not heard Graham play, although I had heard about him from several friends at Cambridge. Don looked at me in disbelief. "You not heard Graham play?" Then you're in for an experience this afternoon. He's one of the most positive players I've ever met and there are times when he scares me stiff. Occasionally he tries to play chords on the alto and sometimes they don't come off. A lot of people put him down and say his technique is too unorthodox but this is simply not true. Graham is a great individualist and if he feels like playing this way then obviously he would be wrong to conform to convention simply for the sake of conforming. I have a theory that most of the really great American players, Rollins and Coltrane for example, they had this individuality in advance of instrumental mastery. Nowadays, of course, Coltrane can play absolutely anything he likes, technically, but at the outset he had the ideas if not the means to put them over. Graham's the same. Fortunately he has all the confidence in the world. I'll tell you this too, there's no other alto player in the country I'd rather have in the group". He examined the debris of a Cornish Pasty on his plate and decided that a little humour was required. "Of course it's Graham's band but by some strange coincidence I'm the leader."
The session had been called to remake two titles from an earlier date (held on June, 17 1961); the completed LP is due for issue in Britin and America on the Jazzland label, one of Riverside's subsidaries, and the recording was supervised by Ed Michel and Chris Whent of Interdisc, the company which distributes Riverside in Europe. At the session I attended (August 29, 1961) the group recorded Graham Bond's Bring Back The Burch (in honour of pianist Johnny Burch) and Burch's Manumission. "This is from the verb 'manumit' which means freedom from slavery" explained Don. "It's our message to Charlie Mingus!" The group benefits greatly from a well-integrated rhythm section comprimising pianist Johnny Burch, bass player Tony Archer and drummer Phil Kinorra. Phil is an exciting player whose style reminded me of Louis Hayes, although Graham Bond assured me that Sam Woodyard had been a major influence on Kinorra. Graham's own playing was, as Don predicted, a revelation to me, for he is an impassioned soloist whose work communicates with his listeners a bursting enthusiasm. On this showing I would rate him as one of the most exciting soloist in the country. I hope that the resultant record reflects accurately the intensity and freedom of his work. Both numbers featured improvised choruses played by the two saxophones while the rhythm section remainded tactic. During these choruses the collective and spontaneous extemporisations of Rendell and Bond interlocked with such cohesion that listeners may think the passages were written out, or at last rehearsed. So wholeheartedly did Graham fling himself into his task of playing that after one take of Manumission Ed Michel came out of the control box with a thick green cloth in his hands. "Here Graham" he said, "stand on that. The sound of your feet beating out time on the floor when you solo is been picked up by the mikes!" Graham is not a man to be bettered nor does he do things by halves; he played the rest of the date with his shoes off.
When it was all over, the tapes rewound, instruments put away and Graham had run through Chopin's Opus 10, number 12 at the piano, I had the opportunity to talk at lenght with this remarkable alto player. Graham Bond is twenty-three and still a semi-professional; he works as sales manager to central Record Distributors when he is not playing with the quintet. He took up the the alto first at school when he played with a traditional band. (He wanted to play trombone, but the band already had a trombonist). Subsequently he embarked on a thorough training as a classical pianist but found himself becoming more and moreinterested in jazz. He first met Don rendell about four years ago and has spent the intervening years playing gigs with musicians such as Dick Heckstall-Smith and Dick Morrissey. This is first regular job with a band and his long-term ambition is to lead a trio consisting doubling alto and piano plus a bass player and a drummer. His favourite alto players comprise a list embracing nearly everyone who has ever taken up the instrument but there are two whose names come close to the top. "A lot of people seem to think am trying to sound like Cannonball Adderley" he says, "but although I like Cannonball I've not been influenced by him. I have been influenced by Eric Dolphy though, and on ballads my playing reflects my admiration for Art Pepper. Pepper gets such a beautiful sound. On the faster things through I prefer a stronger sound, like Dolphy's or Phil Wood's; there's another fine soloist."
At thirty-five Don Rendell now leads a band of men all at least six years younger than himself. (He is almost old enough to be Phil Kinorra's father). "This is very stimulating" he says. "It's good to work with young people with fresh ideas. I'm not saying it to fit into this set-up perfectly. For instance, these things we do in three-four time time, well I've not played in that time signatures since I've played waltzes with Oscar Rabin! It's a bit hard to think in three-four after twenty years of playing four-four at different speeds". This self-criticism, so typical of Don, is perfectly. As it stands today the quintet is finding its feet both musically and financially. During the month of August, a notoriously bad month for jazz groups, the quintet worked at least three nights a week, a situation only bettered by the longest etablished units playing resident engagements in clubs. If confidence, sincerity and belief in an ideal are measure of success then the Don Rendell Quintet can look forward to a bright future.
As most of the members of the band will be new to readers of this magazine it will serve a useful purpose to include some biographical notes. Graham Bond has been covered in the foregoing paragraphs, the remaining members are as follows:
Johnny Burch: Born January 6, 1932, he started playing boogie at the age of twelve. He never had any formal tution but played in Germany with his unit's dance band during his army service. After his demobilistion he played piano for his own amusement and also worked with a local band at weddings and dances. In 1959 he went to France with a band containing bass player Jeff Clyne and tenor saxist Bobby Wellins. This band toured American Army camps and when he returned to this country last year Johnny joined Allan Ganley's Jazz Makers. He left the Jazz Makers to become a member of the Don Rendell Quartet- as it was then - at Xmas 1960. Since joining Don he has started to compose and arrange, and wrote The Haunt and Manumission, both of which are to be included on the Jazzland LP. (He has also written a ballad which the quintet does not play but which Tony Hall has sent to John Coltrane). His favourite arrangers include Gil evans (he singles out My Ship from the Mles Ahead LP), Ellington and Benny Golson. Golson figures in his list of jazz composers too as does Tadd Dameron. "We play Lady Bird with the quintet" he told me "and it still sounds fresh today. All Dameron's tunes seem to have this freshness, Good Bait, Our Delight and the rest". Bill Evans is his idea of a jazz pianist who is nearly perfect in every aspect although he retains a longstanding respect for Bud Powell, Horace Silver and Oscar Peterson. "Oscar is playing differently now" he maintains, "less notes, a more direct style but still with that tremendous facility."
Tony Archer: The group's bass player was born in Dulwich during July, 1938, and started to study bass at the age of sixteen. He worked around London with his own trio which was, in fact, the Rendell Quintet's present rhythm section. He did his first professional engagement in Scotland before going to the Continent for a year. On his return he joined first the Peter King Quintet then the Harold Mcnair Quartet. He understudied Malcolm Cecil in the London production of The Connection and joined Don rendell at the beginning of June this year. He lists Paul Chambers, Leroy Vinnegar and the late Scott LaFaro as his three favourite bass players.
Phil Konorra: The youngest member of the band was born on October 20, 1940, at Sherwood, Nottingham, and started playing drums four years ago with a musical stage act. He worked in summer shows and variety with his act before coming to London at the beginning of 1960 with a rhythm-and-blues unit run by Heather Logan, sister to Annie Ross. When the rhythm-and-blues unit disbanded he joined the Peter King Quintet, leaving later to work with Ronnie Scott Quintet. He gave up playing the drums for about four or five months to concentrate on a solo night club act but began again earlier this year when he deputised for Tony Mann during a London run of The Connection. He joined Don Rendell in May and lists his favourite drummers as Art Blakey, Louis Hayes, Sam Woodyard, Dannie Richmond, Jimmy Cobb, Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones.
JAZZ NEWS - UK - January 3 1962
|Don Rendell's talked-about young alto player GRAHAM BOND speaks his mind to Jazz News|
I was playing piano at the age of nine, and my parents had the idea of me being a concert pianist. At first they had to make me practice, but I soon got to like, for its own sake. While I was at school I was doing about six hours a day.
Funnily enough, the first "jazz" that attracted me was Winifred Atwell and Sid Phillips. Then I went into a music shop one day to buy the latest Atwell sheet music, and it was out of stock, so I bought a James P. Johnson album instead. So I played a lot of that.
By the time I was in the Sixth form I had a Trad band at school. It was rather frowned on by the authorities, but our clarinettist (and darned good, too) was one of the masters. I used to buy sheet copies of Morton's "Naked Dance" and "Frog-i-more Rag" and things like that, and I play them off. I was going to take up the trombone, for dramatic reasons, but someone in the band got there first, so I started on alto. Actually, being 'straight' minded, I rather regarded it as a mongrel instrument. My first influence was Earl Bostic, then Paul Desmond, and then I got on to Charlie Parker. And, of course I tried to copy them all.
Eventually I began to dig blues, and the blues, I feel is the most important thing in jazz, something that every jazz player has in common with all others. On the whole, I would say that more tenor players than alto players have influenced me. I listen to them more often. I have one Parker record in my collection. I feel he's so great, and such a commanding influence, that I might get "taken over" by him if I listened too much.
On alto, I like Eric Dolphy best, after Bird, rather than Ornette Coleman, by whom I'm supposed to be influenced. But I listen to Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Benny Carter; they're all very important. People tend to dismiss so many of the pioneers, but I'm sure everyone who's played jazz has something important to say. I'm a great lover of jazz without dividing lines - I don't like intolerance of any man's music. There are infinely good things in jazz, not tied up in a load of little schools.
I certainly feel a burning conviction that I have to play - and play me. It's essential to my life, otherwise I wouldn't bother to play at all. And basically, I don't really care whether people like it or not.
As a semi-pro, I can find a release in music from my daytime business (which is creative in its own way) and this possibly contributes to the so-called "wildness" in my own playing. People accuse me of insincerity, because I'm not prepared to give up everything to be a full time musician, I would probably be a better player if I did, as I'd get more time to practise, but this way I don't have to conform, and make all those little concessions that professionals have to. I can afford to play as I like. And even if people don't dig it, I can say to hell with them. I couldn't support my family on jazz - and you can't ignore the responsibilities you acquired. There are people who use jazz as an excuse for living like animals. But if playing means that you've got to throw up your responsibilities as a human being, those in music are missing a lot in life. Being a human being is a big part of the music you play. Your life comes out through your horn. I can see both points of view on this problem, of course and, as deep down I'd like to be a musician all the way, I tend to set restrictions on myself, so can't get out of control.
I'm the first to realise my own limitations - particularly technically. I'm not particularly well schooled on alto. My mind is ahead of my fingers and I often go for things I don't make, which seems to upset people. Sometimes, though you surprise yourself, when you play, and that gives you an incentive to go on.
But I'm nowhere near any sort of maturity, emotional or anything else. No one reaches emotional maturity before he's thirty or thirtyfive at least, and the hope that then I might be able to put something down of my own, is what keeps me going. I'm saying very little now, though to say a lot. But my rate of progress will be determinded by the time I have to practice technique and increase my musical knowledge. And that's something you never stop doing.
Musicians are very vulnerable to harsh criticism, as basically, you strip yourself naked in public, when you put yourself wholly into what you play. I tend to go at things like a bull at a gate, so I'm trying to achieve concentration on my playing. In anything in life, you move forwards or backwards, you can't stand still, and it's not something over which you have entire control. But you can make progress by practise, and self-examination. After all, what you play is only an extension of what your mind is thinking.
Anyone with any musical talent can acquire tone, technique and a feeling for form. But something you can't learn, is the basis feeling for ideas of your own, and an instinct for "time" and how to play about with it. You've got to feel jazz.
Though it's essential to really know your horn, I feel that technique, as such, is only useful - but of course, the more you have, the better you can express your mind.
I can hardly describe the tremendous experience which working with Don Rendell has been for me. He continues to amaze me. I'd say that Dick Heckstall-Smith is the most underrated player over here. He has a unique approach of his own to playing, and also something I think is characteristic of all great jazz players, a sense of humour. I also admire Bobby Wellins. He always sounds 'Scots' to me in his playing, and I admire his dedication. He's one of the most original players on the scene. I admire Sandy Brown and Al Fairweather because they've taken an existing method, and done their own things with it. Then there's so much warmth in Danny Moss's playing. Brian Dee, Malcolm Cecil nd Tony Archer have contributed and are contributing a great deal, and John Burch (who's also been influenced by the blues and boogie pianists) is saying something.
I have, in short, no financial reason to play jazz. The only reason is something inside me I want to say. But I've hardley started yet.
|Edited by Kitty Grime|
JAZZ NEWS & REVIEWS - UK - March 14, 1963
|"Graham Bond And The New Quartet"|
Another jazz and blues group comes into existence, one which may very well become the most successful, Graham Bond (alto, organ, vocals), John McLoughlin [sic] (gtr), Jack Bruce (bs), Peter "Ginger" Baker (drs) are the quartet.
With an E.M.I. recording contract firmly signed, with vocalist DUFFY POWER backed by the quartet producing some startling,effective jazz and R & B records; with heavily booked concert and jazz club programme; the Quartet has commenced activity with an impetus and drive seldom seen to the top level almost immediately. Without any doubt this is the most intersting break through in the jazz-blues field yet.
The total quartet is part of the excellent JOHNNY BURCH OCTET, itself a powerful, rhythmic jazz group which can be considered as one of the country's top three popular swinging jazz groups.
Graham Bond's comments on the current scene and his Quartet's place in it, are worth recording:
|KORNER AND RENDELL|
"Working with Alexis Korner was one of the two great musical experiences in my life. The other one was working with Don Rendell. I consider Alexis and Don to be 'greats' in their fields. With CYRIL DAVIES, Alexis is to be credited with the creation of the new jazz based R & B scene. Alex is the greatest white guitar player."
"Nowhere can there be found such a profusion of good blues musicians and vocalists as in Britain. Apart from Alexis and Cyril, special note should be made of GEORGIE FAME, who is gaining acceptance as a fine jazz and blues vocalist. DUFFY POWER is potentially the greatest. What he is doing now on record for E.M.I. and with my quartet will place him in the recognised are of fine jazz vocalists. Then there's LONG JOHN BALDRY who, if he spreads out from the strictly blues field has a great future."
"I can't afford to be falsely modest here. Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce are not only top men on their instruments, but are successful composers and arrangers with a deep, sincere knowledge of jazz and music in general. Their creativeness is remarkable. John McLaughlin, once with Georgie Fames 'Blue Flames' will, I predict, gain recognition as one of our leading jazz guitarists. For the Quartet it is jazz all the way. No matter what the publicity states, or the public calls it, we are playing, and will ALWAYS play jazz. If other groups want to copy American negro groups, or play rock'n roll and call it R & B that's up to them."
|COMMERCIALISM IN JAZZ|
"What the Quartet is going to do WILL be commercial. We aim to play good jazz which by its very quality IS commercial, just as the top names in America are. The Quartet - and the Octet - are in business to play exciting, creative blues based, jazz. I am looking foreward to the Burch Octet - Bond Quartet package tours with eagerness. On March 14th at Stoke On Trent we will be playing our first joint date. Then the big jazz club and concert tours start. With the already created records, we're on the way."
|THE FUTURE OF R & B JAZZ|
"The onslaugh of the RAY CHARLES' style in America and the greater use of jazz musicians in the scene here will develop until the young public are weaned away from 'three guitars and a whiner'. DUFFY POWER'S first record for E.M.I. was the forerunner of many in this idiom. RON RICHARDS of E.M.I. says 'I am convinced that this music can and will be commercially successful'. The Quartet bcking Duffy, will produce a sound which is going to be the hit sound of the year. Just wait and see'. GRAHAM BOND is the man who looks like leading the biggest surge forward in the popular acceptance of jazz in Britain."
MELODY MAKER - UK - October 10, 1964
|"GRAHAM BOND says: R&B? It's only in its infancy"|
"I'm not one of those people who is ashamed of playing blues and earning money out of it". A characteristic statement from Graham Bond who admits his "agressive honesty" frequently gets him into trouble. Graham, whose facial displacement of hair makes him look rather like a French postman, deserves full marks anyway for calling his group the Graham Bond Organisation and resisting the temtation to fool with names like 007 or Smersch."
As a former modern jazz altoist, does he find the blues restricting?
"Certainly not" retorted Graham. "It doesn't have to be a 12-bar. Blues can be 9 1/2 bars, or 14 bars, and in any time. You can play so many different sequences, or no sequences at all."
"Talk about 'Free Form' - there is a tremendous parallel with the blues, because it's so free. We are playing the blues of today and I can get away with playing practically anything."
"There is no reason at all why you can't take the blues and and put technique of modern jazz on it. After all the greatest blues player of all time was Charlie Parker."
Graham first got the blues bug when he heard the Alexis Korner band:
"There was Ginger Baker, Cyril Davies, Jack Bruce and Dick Heckstall-Smith", he recalls. "Ginger, Jack and Dick are with me know. It was the embodiment of most of the things I wanted."
"I joined Alexis and it was marvellous tution. If it were not for him and Cyril Davies this scene wouldn't have been what it is today."
"After I'd been with Alexis for a while I got a Hammond organ. Now I sing, alto and organ things with the other hand."
"Playing with Alexis also showed me I wanted to sing and play alto and organ - the last two at the same time sometimes."
"Although that has good gimmick value it is also very valid, in that I get a lot of things going by playing single-note lines on a great deal - I really love singing the blues."
"The Organisation is a co-operative group in that there is no star and everybody is indispenable."
"I think the visual thing is extremely important, but the point about both our music policey and presentation is that at least 90 per cent is completely improvised."
"At first things were very hard because our sound was too way out at that time. Then groups like the Stones, Beatles, Animals and Manfred Mann helped the transition which made young people able to appreciate the sort of blues and gospel things we do."
"I first heard the Animals in Newcastele - it was my manager, Rohan O'Rahilly, and I who gave them their name."
"Before I joined Alexis I used to go to Butlin's at Clacton where Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg were playing. We used to talk a lot and, as a result, they formed the Blues Brothers. Then Mick Jagger used to come and sing with Alexis."
"The point is that this whole thing is very closeknit."
"A Hit record? Of course we want one, but want one that is really us. All of us feel that we are not in this business for just a year."
"We can all play our instruments, we love playing and we want to do it for a very long time indeed."
"And 75 per cent of our material is original - there is hardly any other band that can say that."
"We think the R&B thing is only in its infancy. We are working six nights a week, and sometimes seven. we have just done 6.000 miles in five weeks and each week we play one or two new clubs."
"I don't care waht anybody says about rock-n-roll or R&B, a lot of these youngsters playing guitars have the basic, natural talent."
"I guarantee that in the next few years there will be many very good young musicians concentrating on expressing emotional feeling as well as technique."
MELODY MAKER - UK - February 27, 1965
|Organs Have Replaced Big Bands says Graham Bond|
Two years ago I was one of the first to play organ. In that two years the organ and tenor sound has spread and as a result it is now more important to be a good musician.
We use the organ far more than most groups that feature it, because we are a smaller group. But we don't feel we need a larger group. We get all the sound we want.
The organ is a logical progression from the big band sound which died the death. It gets the same wide variety of sounds. The organ gets a jerky unswinging effect if it is played in a piano style. I took piano lessons but I know don't play organ like a piano and never have done.
Hands have to be flatter than raised as they are for the piano, because it makes no difference how hard you hit the organ. Volume comes from the swell pedal and lots of people haven't got the use of the pedal yet - it's a technique all of its own.
My advice to youngsters is to get the best organ they can afford and learn how to play it properly. I am not terrifically impressed by the organ players around, but people like Georgie, Zoot and Brian Auger do well in the field.
You have to identify yourself with the instrument - it has got to be an extension of your personality.
BEAT INSTRUMENTAL - UK - March 1965
|"IT'S ALL OR NOTHING" says Graham Bond|
They are called the Graham Bond ORGAN-isation, and that is just how they are.
"We're are all stars or none of us are" insists Mr. Six-by-Six Graham Bond with a rough-hewn rhetoric that makes disagreement suicidal. In fact, the capital appearance of "ORGANisation" may well be a trick of the printers.
Lesser outfits may use the stage like a trampoline and yell, "We are the greatest, the new sound, the creators". But no outfit displays as much soulmanship, as much depth of inspiration as the Organisation.
Graham's Hammond organ has a battered look about it, though he swears it is the latest thing in organs. Mind you, the way he beats his colour out of it . . .
Ginger Baker, described as "one of the greatest drummers wearing clothes", makes dropping a stick seem like part of the act, he gets over it so well.
Dick Kemstall-Smith (sic), with flat cap and horn-rimmed glasses blows wild, wild out of a sax stained with genius.
And bass guitarist Jack Bruce is so way out with his harmonica solos that you have to be a Coltrane addict sometimes to know just how beautiful he is doing.
Waxing thus, they don't sell millions of copies of each release, but that isn't their main consideration.
Their stage act presents the most exciting music I have heard. They don't enter into the great rhythm and blues controversy, because their own music, they feel, is too personal to categorise. Of their motivations, Graham says frankly, "We are influenced by every good thing ever heard".
That is something every artist knows about his art, but few are honest enough to admit.
Graham is happy for the success of Georgie Fame, a personal friend of his.
"I don't say it has done me and my music any good", says Graham. "Nothing as definite as that.
"But I think Georgie and Zoot (Money) are making things more interesting for us. They are preparing the public to hear something that is a little less tailor-made than pop and beat, a little more - well, revelatory".
The Organisation's one contribution to commercialism on stage is a raving "Tammy" which would make Debbie Reynolds spin in her shoe box - Debbie now being married to a footwear millionaire.
"Tammy", anyhow, belongs to a more leisurely age Graham, who topped music paper instrumental polls as long ago as 1960 - and that, my children, was much music ago - may well be on verge of recognition.
The 1965 sound could well be of human Bondage.
|MELODY MAKER - March 3, 1965|
GRAHAM BOND SAYS... We're Not Scared Of Playing America
Britain's R&B giants have a characteristic that some of our jazzmen have lacked for years - a tremendous confidence and belief in their music and their ability.
Graham Bond, Alexis Korner, Georgie Fame, Long John Baldry and Ginger Baker are all very conscious that their music is good.
This is not to imply they are raving bigheads. Or that jazzmen do not believe in their own playing. But jazzmen tend to accept second-class citizenship to the Americans. R&B musicians don't.
Graham Bond, particularly, is supremely proud of his group and utterly confident of their ability.
Says Graham: " We are all fanatics and know what we are doing are good. Nobody plays like us this side of the Atlantic - or the other. And we wouldn't be scared of playing in America".
Graham is proud of their early struggles for success. "Look how big the R&B scene is now. When we started we had no money, and there were only two clubs in the whole country - so how about it?
"Our first LP was released last Friday. It has captured the sounds of our group, but we have a lot more.
"The reason I left jazz was because I was expexted to play like somebody else all the time. Ninety per cent of what we play in the group is improvisation, and it is us! We rely on being inspired, and usually we are because we have a telepathic feel between us and respect for each other.
"All of us are capable of composing and arranging. Ginger Baker can talk to us about music and we can talk to him about drums. He's not just a drummer, but an exceptional musician.
"Incidentally, Ginger has found a new sound on his cymbal. A chick jumped on it accidentally and knocked it inside out, like an umbrella. He had to use it, and found a new sound! He's raving about it to all the drummers. He's also playing four sticks at once now.
"Talking of sounds, we decided to break with lead guitar altogether. Jack Bruce, with his six-string bass guitar, gets a sound that is virtually a guitar. He plays ridiculous solos and is also quite a fabulous string string bass player. His harp playing and singing is also the finest.
"There is a narrow line between egoism and belief in what we are doing. We know our faults too, and as I see it we are only at the beginning of what we can achieve.
|MELODY MAKER - UK - August 7, 1965|
|GRAHAM BOND - A REVOLUTION IN GROUP SOUND|
If you listen very hard to records, you may have noticed brass and strings, on Graham Bond's new disc, "Lease On Love". What you may not know is that Graham was playing these instruments on a new revolutionary organ, the Mellotron.
What's revolutionary about an organ simulating other instruments? Well, the Mellotron play's the true sound and not an electronically produced one.
Bond explains: "The Mellotron uses pre-recorded tapes of other instruments. For example, every note in the register of the trumpet is recorded - and I can play it on the organ keyboard getting the real sound.
"The possibilities are great. One can play chord combinations as well, and the other end of the keyboard one can produce a rhythm section".
Instrumental sounds which can be produced on the Mellotron includes violin, guitar, organ, piano, flute, trombone, saxophone, muted brass, harpsichord, church organ, trumpets and accordion.
The rhythm section is just as versatiles; bossa nova, several foxtrots, Dixieland, Bolero, jazz bass (slow and fast), samba, and a Viennese waltz.
Graham already plays alto sax and organ at the same time. "Now," says Graham, "I can back myself with brass, or strings. On a record I'm playing first organ with brass accompaniment, then I switch over to organ with the string section backing. All good stuff!".
At the moment, Graham is the only person using a Mellotron in this country. But it looks as though this one-man band might catch on.
|BEAT INSTRUMENTAL - UK - September 1965|
|GRAHAM BOND AND HIS ORCHESTRA !!!|
Graham Bond is now part of an orchestra - yet there are still only three members of his "Organisation". Work that out! I'll simplify matters by saying that Mr. Bond has splashed out £975 for an instrument called a Mellotron which resembles an organ in appearance and produces the sound of strings, brass and woodwind. Hard to believe! Yes, indeed, but it really does do just this. Graham played live on "Ready Steady Go" and showed fascinated onlookers such as P. J. Proby, The Pretty Things and Moody Blues how this "orchestra in itself" can be used, by featuring it on his new number, "Lease On Love".
The Mellotron made its first public appearance with the group at The Marquee in Wardour Street, London, and caused a minor sensation. The sound filled the club, and can you imagine numbers like"Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Mojo" swelled with brass sounds, plus of course, the already thunderous impact of the foursome themselves!
And the most amazing point is that Graham has not scrapped his Hammond organ to make room for the "newcomer" - but plays both!
"It took two months of solid rehearsal to get used to the Mellotron" Graham told me. "And now I feel I've got the hang of it. The only difficulties I can foresee are getting the equipment to the venues and setting up on stage".
This new addition enables the group to expand musically and already they are fitting in numbers such as "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?" by Jimmy Smith, and a lot of their own songs rigged to fit in with big background music.
Which brings me to tell you about their new album due for release in about four weeks. It features the Mellotron prominently and shows the Graham Bond Organisation as talented composers.
The majority of tracks are their own and the whole thing was done under the direction of manager Robert Stigwood at Olympic Sound Studios with the assistance of engineer Keith Grant.
The studio was also used for the waxing of their new release "Lease On Love". This number was written by two "unknown" writers Rick Minas and Mike Banwell. The "B" side is one called "My Heart's In Love" (sic) composed by the group.
|How does Graham Bond amplify the Mellotron?|
"I use a similar system to that of my Hammond", he said. His organ is amplified by a 50-watt Leslie unit.
The Mellotron is a keyboard in two parts with rows of switches and buttons in addition. By pulling and pushing the right combination of these, one side plays virtually any instruments you require - violin, guitar, organ, piano, trumpet and so on, while the other end of the keyboard produces a rhythm section.
Another change in the group's line-up is the acquisition of a string bass. This will be played by Jack Bruce, who is currently using a Fender six string through a Vox 100-watt amplifier.
"This will fit in well with a lot of gospel-type numbers we will be trying soon". he told me.
|FABULOUS - UK - November 13, 1965|
|Donovan thinks the Graham Bond Organisation are the greatest . . . So he detailed Maureen Hart to write about them|
The Marquee Club, one of London's favourite niteries, is set in the heart of Soho, and it was here that I went along to see The Graham Bond Organisation recently.
Inside the club a maze of unidentified figures stood around in groups. Couples stared enrapt, almost hypnotised, at a small platform on which stood - The Graham Bond Organisation.
As the group is called an "organisation" I expected to see a sort of half-size philharmonic. However, there were only four musicians on stage and when I say musicians I mean musicians.
To look at, the organisation are as different from the usual pop-groups as Ringo Starr and Marianne Faithful. And not as pretty as either! But that sound they make . . . Wow!
Standing on the extreme left on the stage was bearded Dick Heckstall-Smith, a thick-set six footer, who plays the tenor and soprano saxophone.
Next to Dick, was a lad who looked no older than twelve, let alone old enough to handle a trumpet as well as he did. That was Mike Falana, newest member of the group.
On drums was a lanky, red-topped figure of Ginger Baker, his first name being as appropriate as gorgeous is to McCartney.
Last, but no means least, was Graham Bond, the 007 of rhythm and blues, a hefty man who looks like a wrestler. He has long black sideburns and a Mexican moustache, and plays the Hammond Organ and Mellatron (sic.).
|What a sight and what a sound. I was knockedout by the fantastic rhythm and blues this group handed, or rather sweated, out.|
Fans? Oh yes, there were fans, but fans with a difference. Fans who sat quietly with appreciative tapping of feet and nodding of heads. Fans who looked compleately wrapped up in the heart and the soul of the music.
The atmosphere built up as the time went on. The air was electric. Graham Bond put everything into his music, real music. Sweat poured from the musicians and added to the frenzied excitement that made the onlookers all part of the whole show.
The music stopped. The audience flopped back in their seats, worn out with the tension and emotion. It was over.
I can now see why Donovan raves over the Graham Bond lot, because they are really something. The Moody Blues, who did a tour with them recently, are also among their admirers. Mick Jagger spent a whole day in Andrew Oldham's office telling everyone how marvellous he thought the organisation were. Well, with fans like that, they can't be bad.
While the road managers were busy packing up the Bond gear, I managed to nab Graham for a couple of seconds. He was obviously tired, but I only wanted to fire two questions at him and he very sweetly consented.
"Do you always have this marvellous effect on your audience?" I asked.
"Well, wherever we go there seems to be a large crowdand they always give us a marvellous reception," said Graham. "It's not so much the applause at the end of a number, but the electric current that seems to go between us and them. It tells us that they enjoy listening as much as we enjoy playing".
Question number two - "Do you always work as hard as this?"
"Yes, definitely. We believe in giving the public a real performance. We're hard workers and we enjoy working hard. It's all part of the whole package".
Lovers of rhythm and blues are missing something until they taste the soul-packed sound of The Graham Bond Organisation - they're the greatest!
MELODY MAKER - UK - October 29, 1966
|How Some Of Today's Top Men Started|
..... GRAHAM BOND: At the age of five I told my parents I wanted to play organ and they were all going to come up to the Albert Hall to watch me play. So they got me a piano and I studied from the age of seven until I was 14.
When I was 15 I decided to form a jazz band and because I had chronic asthma I took up alto sax to help strenghten my lungs and breathing. Now I've got very strong lungs. My father bought me an alto, and for weeks before that I practiced fingering with a stick with the notes cut in. I've got an unconventional approach to saxophone. I never bothered with chords - I just believe in blowing!
For beginners get a good sax exercise, and build up the basics and at the same time listen to everything and be influenced by everything, good or bad, because you can then draw from so many things and you won't get stuck to any style. Also stay as healthy as you can, because it's a very hard business .....