THE BASS WORLD’S CREAM DE LA CREAM
Jack Bruce changed the way people play the bass. With the chops of a jazz hound, the high-minded sophistication of a classical player and the raw force of rhythm & blues, Bruce helped establish the seriousness of rock musicianship in the 1960s and 70s. His groundbreaking work with Cream, jazz titans like John McLaughlin and Tony Williams, composers Kip Hanrahan and Carla Bley, and many others has produced a body of work few other bassists - or singers, a skill Bruce is equally unique and adept at - can approach. He continues to challenge and delight listeners and himself, including his recent collaboration with Vernon Reid, Cindy Blackman and John Medeski called Spectrum Road (check a JamBase show review here). Today is Jack Bruce’s 68th birthday. Thank you for the music, sir. Keep it coming and we’ll happy as clams… (Dennis Cook)
We begin with a track from 1971’s Harmony Row, which Bruce has called his favorite solo album.
With this tune, Bruce created one of the most memorable, powerful opening riffs of any song, ever.
Bruce first played with Cream’s Ginger Baker in this rowdy British R&B band, where the two reportedly did not get along. But quality musical chemistry often comes with some catalytic reactions, and this pairing does produce amazing results.
Here’s a wicked team up between two of the U.K.’s heaviest heavyweights on one of Creem’s sauciest numbers.
Much of Bruce’s solo career has found him hanging out on the edge, testing where music can go. His latest project, Spectrum Road, provides a vehicle for both his avant itch and his tenacious groove sensibilities.
While the boys of Cream have been famously cantankerous with one another, just check out Clapton’s grin at the beginning of this clip for one of Bruce’s finest moments as a vocalist (and props to lyricist Pete Brown who co-wrote “White Room”).
One of Bruce’s greatest strengths is how naked he can be as a singer. That he can also explode into dynamic, wild action on a moment’s notice doesn’t hurt either.
In recent years, Bruce has embarked on cool musical conversation with fellow veteran Robin Trower. As Jack says here, “What a lovely vibe.”
A fair amount of Bruce’s lyrical content has focused on speaking truth to those in power. Rarely do they make out well at the end of Jack’s pointy stick.
For whatever else he’s put his hand to, Bruce remains a devoted acolyte of the blues. And lord is he suited to the task!
A spot of noisy fun as we wind things down.
Gary Moore fills the guitar spot in BBM with flair and muscle, two things Jack Bruce knows a bit about.