Graham Bond Organisation – “Solid Bond”
(This review was submitted by Walter Kolosky but written by Mark Anderson).
Originally released in 1970 this double album was already retrospective, comprising as it does of recordings from two sessions; Live at Klooks Kleek Club, London in 1963 (3 tracks) and Olympic Studios, London 1966 (9 tracks).
For fusion fans, the cover offers a temptation that is not really fulfilled by the contents because there are only three live cuts featuring future fusion superstars Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and John McLaughlin playing together. The other nine tracks are essentially a multi-tracked trio of Heckstall-Smith/Hiseman and the leader himself providing both bass and keyboards via his dynamic Hammond playing, behind his tortured, gritty R&B vocals.
The live cuts show the fledgling Graham Bond Organisation as a lively swinging jazz combo, with Bond’s alto’s squawking, honking and soulful wails prodding against Bruce’s muscular acoustic bass and 19-year old McLaughlin’s restrained yet already filigree trademark comping. Baker swings energetically throughout over blues tinged 12/8 patterns. On their dual-composed piece, McLaughlin and Bond deliver gritty yet mainstream solos. Though very good, none of the rhythm trio is yet manifesting their ground-breaking exploits that were to come. On the Rollins’ classic “Doxy” McLaughlin and Bond deliver unison melody lines over a loping jazz/blues groove before taking extended solos.
McLaughlin here is still in his ‘Tal Farlow’ period, illustrated much more keenly later, on Experiments with Pops with the Gordon Beck Quartet and showing none of the Hendrix rock influences that were to propel him into mega stardom with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra a decade later.
The bulk of the album has incendiary British drummer Jon Hiseman’s twin bass drum kit propelling his later Colisseum collaborator and double reeds player, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Bond’s quadruple-limbed organ playing through seven original Bond compositions, the Mar Keys’ “Last Night” and Booker T’s ubiquitous “Green Onions.” Heckstall-Smith’s multi-tracked saxophones comp and solo in equal measure, supporting the leader’s growling Hammond. Hiseman is quite a revelation, showing technical dexterity and musical freshness which lends much credence to his claim to having introduced the jazz-rock style of drumming to British and US musicians alike.
If you enjoy gritty, sexy R&B with Jazz and Soul inflections, you’ll love this album. Fusionists will approach this collection as an historical document and as the seedbed of things to come. This is probably Graham Bond’s greatest legacy to the Jazz-Rock/Fusion movement. –Mark Anderson
Musicians: Graham Bond –organ, also sax and vocals; John McLaughlin -guitar; Jack Bruce –acoustic bass; Ginger Baker -drums; Dick Heckstall-Smith –saxophone; Jon Hiseman –drums
Released on CD in 2009
(Collectors Choice Music/Warner Bros CCM-2000)