They say that “the cream always rises to the top” and in the case of Jack Bruce, nobody would dispute that during his musical lifetime he owned every word of this slightly overused phrase.

Filmed and recorded at the tribute show on the first anniversary of Jack’s passing at The Roundhouse, London and organised by his family, tonight’s screening also coincided with what would have been Jack Bruce’s 75th birthday. 

With most of the guests who took part in the show in attendance, along with Jack’s family, the film got rolling to reveal that star-studded night of blues and jazz hued music and tipping of hats to a true, bona fide legend and his blistering bass playing and unique rangy vocals.

An ensemble cast of legends and emerging talent kicked off proceedings with a vintage video of Jack playing manic harmonica blues on Traintime. Then Mark King, proving himself to be somewhat of a renaissance man of musical styles, thumbed a cherry red Gibson bass on opening live track Hit & Run with Clem Clempson on guitar. Remaining onstage King was joined by former Scorpion Uli Jon Roth for a scorching take on I Feel Free and later on Badge.

Further highlights included Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson bringing his flute into play on Milonga and Bernie Marsden burning up and down his guitar neck on Don’t Look Now. He was joined by fellow former ‘Snake bassist Neil Murray on White Room. 

Joss Stone brought her bare-footed vocals on Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out Of Tune and Roxy’s Phil Manzanera held sway on I’m So Glad.

However, the true highlight of this evening captured Ginger Baker rolling back the years with a peerless percussive performance on We’re Going Wrong.

Filmed and directed by Jack Bruce’s family members, some of whom performed superbly on songs during the evening’s concert, with Nitin Sawhney directing the onstage music, the film is a heartfelt homage to one of the true greats of blues and jazz.

After the screening, there was a revealing Q & A, hosted by Edith Bowman, with most of the celebrity musicians who appeared in the film. 

Ian Anderson recollects: “From Jack’s earliest days with the Graham Bond Organisation, the Cream era and on through the various collaborations and solo work, he has continued to serve as a prime inspiration for me and thousands of other musicians, especially those whose performances graced this Roundhouse evening.

I first saw him play at the Nottingham Boat Club in 1966 and had the pleasure to work alongside him on collaborations several times in the final years.”

Whilst Phil Manzanera adds: “Jack was a musical hero of mine, a true force of nature on and off stage, and became a great friend. I was delighted to be part of this powerful and moving tribute concert. I’d like to think that he was looking down on us all, with a wry smile, and thinking “Wow what talented kids Margrit and I have”, for me, their performances were the concert highlights!”

Fellow legendary bass player Mark King opened up: “I was thrilled to perform at the memorial concert for dear Jack. It gave me the chance to say ‘thank you’ for a lifetime’s inspiration, and I am so glad that those who couldn’t be there can now share the love that we all have for this truly great musician. And those who were lucky enough to be there in person will now be able to experience that wonderful night all over again!” 

But the poignant final words belonged to musical director of the evening Nitin Sawhney: “I felt deeply honoured when Natasha and Margrit asked me to musically direct this wonderful tribute show to Jack Bruce’s fantastic body of work. Directing such a range of musical legends, who all came together to reproduce and perform the highlights of Jack’s work, was an enormously inspirational experience. Everyone was determined to rise to the occasion and bring their own special talents to make this an unforgettable night and a fitting response to one of rock’s greatest songwriters and icons. Thank you to all of Jack’s amazing family for the privilege of bringing such an important evening to life.”

In collective faux fear, all attendant musicians jokingly expressed their relief that Ginger Baker was unable to attend whilst looking quietly over their shoulders just in case…

Words: Paul Davies

Jack Bruce
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Event Date: 14-May-2018

About The Author

I began my career in journalism at the now defunct, pre-digital Smash Hits magazine, which was situated in London's Carnaby Street. After learning the ropes, I washed up at Vox Magazine, essentially the NME'S monthly magazine, as the Internet arrived into our lives. Thereon, I eventually graduated onto Q Magazine when people still treasured the magazine that they bought. My journalistic career since has been on newspapers at The Times, The Independent/i newspaper, Daily & Sunday Express and, ofcourse, National Rock Review.

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