Johnny Burch is probably best-known for songs he wrote in 1963 for Georgie Fame such as “In The Meantime” and “Preach and Teach”. This was at a time when the boundaries between modern jazz, rhythm and blues and beat music were being broken down at such places as the Flamingo and the Marquee. For a few months, Burch was leader of a group that included several musicians who found fame in the blues and rock scene of the late 60s such as Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This CD features the earliest-known recordings of Bruce and Baker together in a live broadcast for the BBC from March 1963. It also contains five tracks from a session that Burch’s 1965 line-up recorded for BBC’s Band Beat. Burch was never a major figure in the London jazz scene but this collection highlights his group’s unique role which acted as a bridge between modern jazz and the nascent British R&B movement.
Overall, an amazing collection of pieces, many obscure, some best described as period pieces but much to enjoy. Peter Vacher Jazzrag
When one thinks of bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, the name of Eric Clapton immediately comes to mind since the three masterful musicians formed Cream. However the first time that Bruce and Baker played together was not in a rock group but back in 1963 as members of the Johnny Burch Octet. Pianist Johnny Burch (1932-2006) was part of the British jazz scene starting in 1959. After a period as a member of Allan Ganley’s Jazzmakers and with Don Rendell’s group, he evolved to become a leader in modern jazz without achieving much fame. He did get to accompany such visiting American greats as Freddie Hubbard, Red Rodney and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and wrote a few songs for the popular singer Georgie Fame.
Jazzbeat has Burch at the head of two different octets, playing live in 1963 and 1965. These seven selections have so-so recording quality but are full of plenty of excitement with the numbers including “Moanin’,” “Del Sasser,” and Burch’s “Nightwalk.” On both broadcasts, the playing is top-notch and at the level of their American counterparts. The music is very much in the modern mainstream of the mid-1960s, forward-looking while never hinting at the music of Cream. Scott Yanow Los Angeles Jazz Scene