Jack Bruce - bass, vocals; Dave "Clem" Clempson - guitar; David Sancious - keyboards; Bruce Gary - drums
Jack Bruce has always been an adventurous musician and a supreme innovator. Whether he is the greatest electric bass player of all time is open to debate, but his influence on the course of the instrument and its role within modern music cannot be denied. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and composer, who has worked extensively in the context of jazz, blues, and rock 'n' roll, Bruce has always pushed himself into uncharted waters, refusing to be pinned down to any one genre. Rooted not on only in jazz and the blues, Bruce also studied the classical works of Schubert and Bach, incorporating a contrapuntal approach to the bass that has been monumentally influential. Early on, Bruce soared beyond the instrument's accepted limitations and redefined the role of the bass player. Collaborative efforts within many genres including rock, jazz, blues, fusion, avant-garde, and R&B, continue to be the ongoing theme of Bruce's impressive career.
By July of 1966, when Bruce formed the legendary trio, Cream, with Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, he was already a seasoned musician who had a devoted following through years of work with Alexis Korner, John Mayall, and other lesser known U.K. jazz and blues groups. Although Cream would last only three years, the group can be credited with changing the context of rock music and bringing the blues to a much younger and larger audience. Every rock 'n' roll musician who experienced Cream in a live context was forced to re-evaluate their own musicianship and rethink their approach. The group's sheer volume and gift for spontaneous improvisation had a profound effect (both good and bad) and paved the way for countless bands to follow.
Never one to stay in one place too long, Bruce released several diverse and acclaimed solo albums throughout the 1970s that showcased his gift for surrealistic songwriting and instrumental innovation. As the 1980s began, Bruce formed a new band featuring drummer Billy Cobham, guitarist Clem Clempson, and keyboardist David Sancious. They toured widely to support their album, I've "Always Wanted to Do This, but album sales were less than expected and the band split shortly thereafter.
At the tale end of 1981, Bruce was invited to help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, which since the closing of Fillmore East a decade earlier had become one of the primary East Coast venues for international touring bands. An impressive lineup of bands was to be featured on the bill including the Allman Brothers Band, Gary U.S. Bonds, Dave Edmunds, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, and Edgar Winter, as well as lesser-known local favorites. For the occasion, Bruce assembled a great band that again featured former Coloseum and Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson, David Sancious from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band on guitar and keyboards, and Bruce Gary, formerly of the Knack and Springsteen's 1975-era band, in the drum chair.
Shortly after the event took place, the King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast two major highlights from the Jack Bruce & Friends set that memorable night. Following the introduction by John Scher, the promoter at the Capitol Theatre, the recording begins with the set opener, "White Room." One of the classic songs from Bruce's Cream era repertoire, this features Bruce in fine vocal form and the band immediately firing on all cylinders. David Sancious keyboards add flavoring to the more familiar arrangement, but it is Bruce's distinctive bass playing and the searing guitar of Clempson that are most impressive here.
The second song is also a Cream-era classic and closed the set that night. Bruce's distinctive bass line kicks off "Politician" with a serious punch. The tight interplay between the musicians and the serious swagger of Bruce's vocal carry this along. Following the initial verses, the band kicks into a hot jam, with Sanscious now on second guitar. This classic Bruce/Brown Cream-era composition most clearly demonstrates the precision and expressiveness of Bruce's bass playing and leaves the audience howling for more.