Jon Mark - vocals, guitar; Johnny Almond - vocals, saxophone, flute, vibes, congas; Tommy Eyre - piano, flute, backing vocals; Roger Sutton - bass, vocals; Danny Richmond - drums, percussion
This Mark-Almond set, sandwiched between ones by Commander Cody and The Sons of Champlin, is an excellent performance, filled with everything a fan of the Mark-Almond's debut album could hope for. With the exception of "The Tramp and the Young Girl," they perform the entire first album over the course of the show, in addition to three unreleased songs. Jon Mark's smooth vocals never sounded better, and all the musicians play brilliantly -especially Johnny Almond, who performs on a multitude of instruments during the set.
The recording begins in progress, just as the band is finishing a jazzy instrumental break with some Jon Mark vocals, presumably from an unreleased song. The set continues with a letter-perfect rendition of "The Ghetto," a track off of their first album. This introspective number features a lovely instrumental break with the acoustic guitar and piano laying down a comfortable bed for Johnny Almond to solo over
Following Jon Mark's introduction of the band members and some background on the next song, they play "California Women," another unreleased tune. This lighthearted, folk-sounding acoustic number is quite uncharacteristic of the band, and likely pulled out specially for this venue.
The show really begins getting interesting with the next number, "Song for You"- another great first album track. Jon Mark announces it as "Give Me Some of Yourself," but Roger Sutton can be faintly heard correcting him in the background. The intermittent ticking sound that was audible on the first three tracks disappears completely. This smoldering, jazzy blues number features lead vocals by Sutton, with the rest of the band joining in on the "Give Me Some of Yourself" choruses. The spacey, instrumental break in the middle proves the band was well versed in the early electric music of Miles Davis. At times they sound remarkably like very early Weather Report with vocals added. This song also features a captivating soprano sax solo from Johnny Almond.
The next tune must have come as a total surprise. Another unreleased tune, "Miss Mercy," turns out to be an additional prologue section to "The City," the group's most beloved composition. This piece was not included on the studio recording and must have been completely dropped shortly thereafter, as this is its only known performance. It's fascinating to hear the familiar piano and acoustic guitar intro of "The City" surface out of this number. It's an outstanding performance, nearly three times the length of the complete suite on the album and every solo break is equal to or better than the original.
Also of interest in this remarkable version of "The City" is a short monologue by Jon Mark that explains how they met Danny Richmond. (Richmond was Charlie Mingus' drummer, and moonlighted with Mark-Almond when not touring with Mingus.) Richmond also takes an interesting drum solo to end "The City," greatly elaborating on the studio version that ended with shakers and other light percussive sounds.
They end the show with "Love," another first album track. Probably due to time limitations, they skip the initial opening sequence and go straight for the bluesy heart of the song, thus ending a remarkable set.