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The Return of Rick Bryant & the Jive Bombers
New Zealand R&B legend Rick Bryant’s musical preferences were always a little offside most of his contemporaries. His early bands were blues-based, close enough to Bryant’s musical heart, but what he really wanted was a band that reflected his love of Memphis Soul and the music of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Al Green.
Rough Justice came close with a couple of horns but the logistics made it difficult for an eight-piece touring band in the late-1970s and in the early-80s Bryant was back fronting smaller units. In 1983 he formed Rick Bryant & the Jive Bombers, an ambitious project – four brass players, two guitars, keyboards, rhythm section and three female backing vocalists – allowing Bryant to interpret his beloved soul music with suitable instrumentation.
If Rough Justice was difficult to sustain, the Jive Bombers was more so. Musicians came and went, national tours required sponsorship, and the original Jive Bombers lasted less than two years, releasing just one vinyl album, When I’m With You, a mixture of Bryant originals and soul standards.
Of course, Bryant continued belting out his blue-eyed soul with smaller line-ups and in the 1990s he teamed up with songwriter John Kempt to record a CD of Bryant-Kempt originals, Time, under the Jive Bombers moniker, released in 1999.
Meanwhile, the Jive Bombers periodically surface for occasional live performances and for the past two years Rick Bryant has been fashioning a new Jive Bombers album with the help of new and old members, and long time songwriting collaborators Terry Gill, John Kempt, Tom Ludvigson, John Malloy, Gordon Spittle, and even drummer Ross Burge.
Produced by Edmund McWilliams (aka Ed Cake), the album may be low budget but it boasts a big sound. Released by Red Rocks Records, The Black Soap From Monkeyburg will be launched at Auckland’s Galatos on Saturday 8 June, and to honour the Jive Bombers’ 30th anniversary, the first set will be a selection of the soul classics which prompted the band’s formation. Original Jive Bombers bassist Alastair Dougal will return to his former band on the soul standards set, and another guest on the night will be saxophonist Andrew Clouston.
The full Jive Bombers line-up features Neil Watson and Gordon Spittle (guitars), Kingsley Melhuish (trumpet), Chris Watts and Mike Croft (saxophones), Tony McMaster (bass), Rick Cotter (percussion) and Ross Burge (drums); backing vocalists are Isolde Grunwald, Jean McAllister and Buzz Worley.
Tickets are available from iTicket, priced at $25 plus BF. Show starts at 8.30pm.
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