On Jack Bruce: The Passing of an Icon

It saddened me to learn this week of the death of brilliant bassist and singer-songwriter Jack Bruce, an icon of the blues, rock and contemporary jazz worlds. His many years of collaboration with lyricist Pete Brown turned out - very early in their work together - the songs that made both his group Cream and their guitarist Eric Clapton world famous. “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” “I Feel Free” . . . it’s a long list! One of my favorites, “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” appeared on his first solo album, but was a hit for his friends in the probably Cream-inspired group Mountain. (That group featured Cream’s producer, Felix Papalardi, on bass, along with guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Lang, who later joined Jack in the West, Bruce & Lang trio.) But less known to the masses is his brilliant work for the last 40 years with many of the most accomplished musicians of the jazz world. One of the things that has always impressed and  inspired me about Bruce was his steadfast commitment to the music, avoiding compromise of his artistic vision and talent for the sake of continued commercial success. Because of this, his later work maintained a relatively small but devoted following that included many other highly accomplished and creative musicians, such as those he worked with, like guitar gods Vernon Reid, Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher, Allan Holdsworth, and John McLaughlin, keyboardist monsters John Medeski, Carla Bley, David Sancious, and Bernie Worrell, and powerhouse drummers Tony Williams and Billy Cobham. A quick survey of his Wikipedia and YouTube legacy yesterday left me in awe of how much of his musical greatness I had missed over the years. I will be catching up in the coming weeks. But in closing for now, I think it's safe for me to speak for all of us who knew and loved his work in saying: we will really miss you, Jack!