Spectrum Road is a groundbreaking collaboration between four giants of modern music: Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, John Medeski and Cindy Blackman Santana. Born from a shared passion for the music of legendary drummer Tony Williams, the band will release their self-titled debut album on June 5 through Palmetto Records. Later that week, Spectrum Road celebrates its arrival with a highly anticipated performance at Bonnaroo on June 9, which also serves as the first show of a U.S. summer tour. Complete dates will be announced shortly.
“To be able to play and record in this band alongside three of the most creative and stellar musicians in the world is a longtime dream come true,” states Vernon Reid. “The idea for Spectrum Road first came about in 2001 and it was the ongoing belief in the kind of record we knew we could make together that made it come to fruition.”
Spectrum Road opens the ten-track effort with a blistering take on the jazz-rock barn burner “Vuelta Abajo.” It’s apparent from the get-go that more than just another supergroup, this is a deeply attuned band speaking a rarefied improvisational language. As the recording unfolds, there’s a primal urgency to the performances that ranges from the meditative beauty of “Where” to the searing intensity of “Allah B Praised.” Each of these four iconoclasts play to the peak of their musical powers, yet ultimately achieve a whole greater than the sum of their individual parts. Jack Bruce’s bass work anchors Spectrum Road, while he also adds vocals to three songs, including the album’s centerpiece, a spellbinding version of the classic “There Comes A Time.”Vernon Reid delivers one of the most inspired performances of his career. Particularly worth noting is his patient and slow-burning guitar work on “Blues For Tillman” and a spitfire six-string barrage on “Vashkar.” John Medeski shifts tonal colors throughout the ten tracks with flourishes of organ and mellotron. He brings a hefty dose of retro funk to the soaring album closer“Wild Life.” As Spectrum Road’s cornerstone, drummer Blackman dictates the flow, working in free time, juxtaposing delicate cymbal work against monstrous beats and fearlessly steering the quartet through a deluge of razor sharp turns.
“The band takes the electrifying music of Tony Williams as its starting point and turns it into something totally its own,” says Reid. “There’s a vibe from end to end, a certain type of force and ambience that I’ve never experienced before as an artist.”
Spectrum Road is named for one of the incendiary tracks on the original Tony Williams Lifetime album, but as these four musicians demonstrate on their debut recording, this isn’t a tribute band. After making rock history with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in Cream, legendary British bassist Jack Bruce joined the Lifetime for two records thus serving as Spectrum Road’s direct connection to their muse. The group is artfully rounded out with famed guitarist Vernon Reid, of Living Colour, and multi-keyboardist John Medeski, one-third of the juggernaut Medeski, Martin & Wood. Made famous by her ten plus years backingLenny Kravitz on drums, Cindy Blackman Santana has distinguished herself as an impressively versatile player who’s as comfortable on post-bop sessions with Joe Henderson and Wallace Roney as she is touring with pop stars like Kravitz and husband Carlos Santana. The formidable lineup of Spectrum Road assures the legacy of Tony Williams lives on, and clearly qualifies as a major 2012 music event.