Graham Bond: Live At The BBC And Other Stories

Four-disc set from pioneering bandleader.

TODO alt text

On this collection of radio sessions and one-off studio liaisons, Graham Bond’s inspirational presence is clear from his first touch on the Hammond organ.

Introduced by George Melly, recorded live in a cinema in London’s West End and broadcast on the BBC’s Jazz Club in April 1963, the opening cover of The Modern Jazz Quartet’s Bluesology packs swagger and ferocity aplenty.

Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, rejected by Johnny Dankworth’s old-school jazz troupe for being too loud, essay one of the great rhythm sections in rock history as Bond forges the sound of the new. As the session gains momentum, Bond’s gleeful distortion and edgy, Grand Guignol dynamics suggest the auto-destructive impulses of The Who and the floor shaking heaviness of prog bands to come.

Bond’s alto sax-blowing invention had already had an airing, storming through his Coronation Street tribute Elsie And Ena, the previous year with Don Rendell Quintet on Jazz Session.

A sequel to Repertoire’s 2012 Wade In The Water compilation, Live At The BBC And Other Stories gains from including the wry introductions by hepcat BBC announcers and the expertise of compiler collaborators Dick Heckstall-Smith and sleeve notes writer Pete Brown. Bond’s scintillating progress is tracked right up to recordings made with Brown for Sounds Of The 70s in 1972, two years before his premature death under a Tube train.

The grisly nature of his demise, shrouded in hard drug use and occult ritual, has meant Bond’s protean talent is sometimes sidelined. The thrilling music and energy gathered here puts Bond’s tumultuous creativity and diversity centre-stage. The Brown/Bond epic Beak Street mines fervent Afro-rock, sessions with proto Brit rocker Duffy Power, and I Saw Her Standing There (from the July 1963 Pop Goes The Beatles show) recast pop in a jazz furnace.

Signature tune Wade In The Water is present in five separate performances, culminating in the mighty 13-minute-plus version introduced by John Peel in 1970. The wildly varied renditions make it a vehicle for Bond’s galloping, improvisational growth. His time may have been brief but, as Peel notes, he didn’t hang about. A truly compelling force.