Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Vernon Reid, Medeski, Jack Bruce


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Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute featuring legendary bassist of Cream and one-time Lifetime member Jack Bruce, guitarist Vernon Reid (Living Colour), organist John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood), and ace drummer Cindy Blackman brings their unique take on Williams' revolutionary music to The Blue Note in New York City (Jan. 27-30), Yoshi's in Oakland (Feb. 2-5) and Jazz Alley in Seattle (Feb. 7 & 8).

Lifetime was founded as a trio in 1969 by Tony Williams who featured electric guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young. Lifetime's first album, titled Emergency!, was rejected by many jazz fans who came to know Williams' music from his work with the Miles Davis Quintet in the '60s, but many now consider it a fusion classic. Jack Bruce joined Lifetime on their second recording Turn It Over, providing bass and vocals, making the group a quartet. But Lifetime was short-lived, and Williams took the concept through various iterations, starting with the New Tony Williams Lifetime 1975. The last New Lifetime recording, Play or Die, was released in 1980. Williams, widely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, continued to perform and record extensively until his untimely death in 1997.

The idea of a tribute band “really started a long time ago with the tragic death of Mr. Williams," Vernon Reid wrote in his blog at livingcolourmusic.com on the eve of the Japan dates. “I've had the great fortune to work with the extraordinary bassist Jack Bruce of Cream, and during a tour with him started to chat about Tony Williams and Lifetime and their close personal relationship. I thought of Cindy Blackman, a true devotee of Mr. Williams whose work in that regard is not as well known as her long association with the rock star Lenny Kravitz. John Medeski's organ work evokes the mysterious power of the vastly under-appreciated Larry Young." Reid went on to cite John McLaughlin of the original Lifetime band as a major influence on his guitar playing, “mainly from the later Mahavishnu period, the seeds of which were sown in Tony Williams Lifetime."

Cindy Blackman also expressed her excitement at being involved in the group, exclaiming “Tony Williams is my drum hero! The Tony Williams Lifetime influenced not only Miles Davis but Mahavishnu, Return to Forever and the next three decades of electric music to the present."

For Jack Bruce, paying tribute to Williams is a homecoming that is more than welcome. “One of the greatest highlights of my musical career was playing with Tony's amazing band," he said. “Together I believe we can rekindle the spirit of a more joyous and optimistic era."

Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Tour Dates

JANUARY 27, 28, 29 & 30 | Sets at 8PM & 10:30PM

Four Nights at YOSHI'S in OAKLAND
FEBRUARY 2, 3, 4 & 5 | Sets at 8PM & 10PM

FEBRUARY 7 & 8 | Sets at 7:30PM & 9:30PM

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This story appears courtesy of JamBase.
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