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Blood Sweat & Tears
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A twenty-first century version of one of the music world’s most popular bands.
It’s been more than four decades since drummer/producer Bobby Colomby and friends assembled the first group to successfully blend rock and jazz into a genre-crossing sound and style. So successfully, in fact, that the band’s second album, Blood, Sweat & Tears, topped the Billboard charts, beat out the Beatles Abbey Road for Grammy Album of the Year, and produced three major hit singles “You Made me so Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die.”
Over the next four decades, Colomby, who owns the B, S & T franchise, kept the band in the public eye via a succession of players.
“The obligation of a band,” he says, “is to be entertaining, and be mindful that the audience is there to hear your hits. And for many years, the Blood, Sweat & Tears brand has provided enjoyable evenings. We were trying to make sure that people walked out of our concerts feeling they’d just heard a great show. And the feedback we’ve gotten confirmed that’s been the case.”
But Colomby is looking for much more as he develops Blood Sweat & Tears into a contemporary voice, one that reaches beyond a single audience.
“We’re not trying to target just one generation,” he says. “That would be a mistake. With this updated version, I want to gain a wider audience. I want people of all ages to come and say, ‘Next time I’m bringing more friends to the show; they gotta see this band.”
His favorite analogy for explaining his audience perspective relates to the New York Yankees. “We’re often asked,” he says, ‘Does the band have any original members?'
“When you’re at a Yankee game,” Colomby says, “you’re not going to see Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. They’re not going to be there. But what you will see is a brand, the pinstripes, and they’ll be able to hit, score runs and play great defense. Because management’s obligation is to recruit the best players available and put the most cohesive combination of players on the field to represent the Yankee brand. So that when the Yankees win, and they’ve played magnificently, no one’s going to say, “Where’s the Bambino: Where’s Mickey Mantle?”
So, too, with Blood, Sweat & Tears. “I believe BS&T has an iconic stature. It’s a style of music,” says Colomby. “A concept that people are coming to see, along with songs that they’re familiar with. Which have to be played and sung in a spirited way, by talented young musicians.”
His desire to create a 21st century B, S & T brand first began to come into focus when he heard singer Bo Bice performing “Spinning Wheel” on American Idol. “Bo’s an original,” says Colomby, “with great musicianship and terrific stage presence. I believe he has the level talent it will take for where this band is headed. When I saw him perform I thought, ‘he could sing a lot of this material in a newer fresher way.' I don’t want to make comparisons, and I’m not looking for a David Clayton-Thomas soundalike, That would working backwards. Bo’s style works perfectly with 'God Bless the Child' and 'Spinning Wheel' and 'You Made Me So Very Happy’ as well as with the material that the band will be perform as we move musically forward.”Bo Bice will perform on Select BS&T shows.
Colomby also describes the instrumental players chosen for the Blood, Sweat & Tears in glowing terms. “The band, man for man, pound for pound, is better than the original B, S & T.,” he says. “Without a doubt. They’re a ridiculously talented bunch, The drummer’s better than I am, or was.”
Strong praise, coming from a musician/producer/manager who knows a winner when he sees it. Colomby’s resume includes initiating significant career achievements for Jaco Pastorious, the Jacksons and Harry Connick Jr., among others . As well as his management and production of trumpeter Chris Botti – currently the Americas most successful instrumentalist .
Hearing Bice with the musicians of BS&T, energized Colomby and gave him the urge to re-involve himself with the band he originally founded.
“We’re not just looking for songs that sound like they’d be good for Blood, Sweat & Tears,” he says, “but looking for really great songs. Period. And go through the basic litmus tests: Will they work really well with these musicians? Can there be arrangements that don’t undo the value and the story line of the song? And more importantly, do it in an innovative way. We don’t, for example, need four horns on every song.”
Colomby also underscores the importance of playing the B, S & T hits, adding that they will be done by Blood, Sweat & Tears with “spirit, excitement and the highest level of musicianship.” “The original B, S &T,” he continues, “was designed to introduce jazz elements to pop music. That was my passion… it still is. Always, of course, done in an entertaining way. As I keep saying, I want the audience to walk out happy, not to be bored with never ending solos.”
Toward that end, Blood, Sweat & Tears will also introduce some new elements into every performance. A significant part of their shows will be devoted to “Songs We Wish We’d Recorded.”
“On occasion,” says Colomby, every artist hears a song written and performed by another composer and says to him/herself ‘I wish that I had written and recorded that one.’ Well, here’s a unique opportunity to perform some other great artists’ songs and make them our own.”
“A perfect example,” adds Colomby,” would be a song that I’m certain most listeners thought we had originally recorded; it’s called “Vehicle.” We’ve been performing that one and the audience goes crazy. We’ll follow with more of our hits. For an encore, we’ll play a song that actually elicits a response I don’t remember seeing from our audiences in the past… they actually start dancing!! Bobby Colomby’s enthusiastic descriptions underscore his excitement about the future. The arrival of this new version of Blood, Sweat & Tears is the next chapter in a musical tale that stretches from the creativity and turbulence of the late ‘60s to the swiftly changing world of the 21st century. The next invigorating phase in the continuing adventures of B, S & T is about to begin.
Blood Sweat & Tears featuring
Blood Sweat and Tears performance.
Berklee College of Music. (Song-Surreptitious).
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"Blood Sweat and Tears was born from a selfish notion that we could combine the sophistication and musical skill level of jazz music with the energy and universal appeal of rock vocal music. Instead of incessant whiny guitar interludes, we would have improvised, spontaneous jazz solos. Horn arrangements were not an afterthought, they were fully integrated into the songs themselves, some written by band members and others that would come from many different resources. These are the ideas that formulated the concept of BS&T
Over the years more than a hundred seventy five musicians have flowed through the ranks of the various iterations of the BS&T. The most commercially successful version of the band was in fact, our second line-up.
What endures today is the evolution that concept… along with an amazing roster of the most talented and entertaining musicians we have ever had.
BS&T has never stopped touring. It didn’t go away. You can call it a renaissance, or the newest version of… but it is simply Blood Sweat and Tears at its best".
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