Bass on Bass: Jack Bruce’s Jazz Flight

OVER THE CLIFF
Jack Bruce
Things We Like
Polydor : 1970

Dick Heckstall-Smith, saxophones; Jack Bruce, bass; Jon Hiseman, drums. 

We’re pleased to host this guest post by bassist and composer extraordinaire Ron Brendle. A while back, he introduced us to this surprising and adventurous jazz album by Jack Bruce. We hope you’ll enjoy it as well. Take it away, Ron….

About 25 years ago, I was checking out an old vinyl store in Charlotte, N.C., The Wax Museum, when I found something I’d never heard of before: a Jack Bruce album called Things We Like. The big difference with this recording is that Bruce plays upright bass, not electric, as he was well known for with the rock trio Cream.

The other musicians on Things We Like are noted British jazzers Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxes (sometimes two at once!) and drummer Jon Hiseman. They are joined on several tunes by then pre-Mahavishnu guitarist, John McLaughlin.

Cream was still fulfilling their commitment to perform a final series of concerts when Jack booked time at BBC Studios to record the jazz record that he had always wanted to make. It’s a freewheeling set of very Ornette Coleman influenced jazz that illustrates the depth of Bruce as a musician and the creative thread in his bass playing that runs through the different genres with which he has always been involved. Check out the bass, sax, and drums trio track for “Over the Cliff”, and this youtube link to the same tune played live

The session was recorded and mixed in less than a week during August 1968, less than three months prior to the Farewell Concert of Cream at the Royal Albert Hall on November 26, 1968. Thankfully, now it’s on CD. Check it out.

Ron Brendle is a freelance bassist with recordings on the LoNote Records label that range from more “out” fare to progressive instrumental rock. Check out ronbrendle.com for more information.

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One Response to Bass on Bass: Jack Bruce’s Jazz Flight

  1. Thanks for this post. Although Jack Bruce is famous for his rock career, he is an interesting jazz musician as well. I bought Things We Like when it first came out in 1971..his label sat on it for more than two years because it wasn’t rock. At the time I knew next to nothing about jazz but it spent a lot of time on my turntable back then. Too few people know about his sideman work (as vocalist as well as bassist) with Tony Williams, Carla Bley, Kip Hanrahan, Michael Mantler, etc. He’s never played it safe working on the jazz side of the street although I have heard him phone it in with some dubious rock power trio projects over the years. His performance with Spectrum Road revisiting the Lifetime repertoire (including some of the unrecorded vocal tunes) at Montreal Jazz 2012 was riveting. OK, I’m a fanboy…hearing Jack made me take up the bass myself. BTW Over the Cliff was named after another UK jazz bassist Cliff Barton who played on the same jazz/R&B circuit as Jack in the 60s.

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