Jack Bruce - Biography
By J Poet
Jack Bruce was induced into the Rock hall of fame for his work with Cream in 1993, and while he’s best known as the bass man, singer and main songwriter for that band, he’s has a long and varied career both before and after his two and a half year superstar stint with that legendary band.
Bruce was born in Glasgow, Scotland to musical parents who lived all over England, Canada and the US. Bruce attended 14 different schools, including the Royal Scottish Academy of Music where he studied cello and composition. He dropped out before graduation and played bass in various bands while bumming around Europe before returning to play with Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc. in London. He left Korner to help found the jazz/rock Graham Bond Organisation with organist Graham Bond, guitarist John McLaughlin and Ginger Baker. They made three albums: The Sound of ‘65 (2008 Repertoire UK), There's a Bond Between Us (2008 Repertoire UK), and Solid Bond (2008 Rhino).
On a trip to London, Marvin Gaye asked Bruce to some to Detroit and play in his band, but he was just about to get married and declined. After his wedding he joined John Mayall's Blues Breakers for Looking Back (1969 London) and Manfred Mann for the “Pretty Flamingo” single and the album Soul of Mann (1969 Capital, 1999 EMI). In 1965 Ginger Baker asked Bruce to join a trio he was starting with Eric Clapton, Cream. Cream sold over 35 million albums between 1966 - 1969 and won the first platinum disc for selling one million copies of Wheels of Fire (1968 Atco, 1999 PolyGram).
When Cream broke up, Bruce started his solo career with the jazz/rock hybrid Songs for a Tailor (1969 Atco), Things We Like (1970 Atco) a free jazz instrumental album, and Harmony Row (1971 Atco) an underrated prog rock meets jazz masterpiece. Between solo projects he joined the Tony Williams Lifetime and contributed to Turn it Over (1970 Verve, 1997 Polydor) and Ego (1970 Verve, 1999 Verve). In 1972 he returned to blues rock with West Bruce and Laing with guitar maniac Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing. They made blues rock three albums in less than two years - Whatever Turns You On (1973 Columbia), Why Dontcha (1973 Columbia) and Live 'N' Kickin' (1974 Columbia) – and broke up.
He made two more solo albums in the 70s, the superb pop jazz of Out of the Storm (1974 RSO) and How’s Tricks? (1977 RSO). He also found time to contribute to two oddball classics Lou Reed’s Berlin (1973 RCA) and Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe (1974 Verve). In the 80s, Bruce was involved with various projects from free jazz to prog rock including B. L. T. (1981 Capital) with Bill Lordan and Robin Trower, Truce (1982 Chrysalis) a jazz/pop excursion with Trower, and Automatic (1987 Presidents UK).
Bruce opened the 90s with the jazz/pop/blues hybrid A Question of Time (1990 Epic/Sony) with Ginger Baker, Tony Williams and Nicky Hopkins along for the ride and Somethin Els (1993 CMP) a collection of rock flavored tunes written with ling time collaborator Pete Brown. On turning 50 he threw himself a musical birthday party that was recorded as the two CD set Cities of the Heart (1994 CMP Germany). After the party he started BBM (Bruce, Baker, Gary Moore) and made one album, Around the Next Dream (1994 Virgin UK). It was a Top 10 hit in England. Monkjack (1995 CMP Germany)., a collaboration with ex P-Funk/Talking Heads keyboard man Bernie Worrell, a beautiful funky bit of avant/rock. The Collector’s Edition (1996 CMP Germany) compiles some of the best tracks for the albums Bruce made for the label.
Shadows in the Air (2001 Sanctuary), was Bruce’s first solo album since 1993- a Latin flavored greatest hits set with a few new compositions, and went up to #5 on the British Blues & Jazz charts. Guests included Eric Clapton, Dr John, Gary Moore, and Vernon Reid. More Jack Than God (2003 Sanctuary) is the first collection of new Bruce tunes in decades. With help from Pete Brown and producer Kip Hanrahan he delivers 14 Latin infused jazz/pop tunes that rank with his best work for Cream.
In 2005 Bruce played a couple of Cream reunion shows and in 2006 accepted a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy for his work with Cream. In 2008 he released Jack Bruce with the HR Big Band (2008 HR Music Germany) a live recording of Bruce hits, solo and from his Cream days, with big band orchestrations, Seven Moons (2008 V-12) a power trio outing with pal Robin Trower and drummer Gary Husband, and Can You Follow? (2008 Esoteric UK) a six CD overview of his career from early Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc. tunes to his latest solo efforts.