Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Cymande: Ronnie Scotts 29/04/17


Perhaps early 70's melodic funkateers Cymande could be described as the very epitome of cult band status, after all they were virtually ignored back home (here in Britain) but were embraced wholeheartedly by their US brethren touring twice with the likes of Al Green, Mandrill and Ramsey Lewis culminating in a 7 day stint at the Apollo before they decided to call it a day in '74.

Thank god The hip-hop generation ploughed their sampling furrow into Cymande with zeal. De La Soul breathing new life to the wonderful 'Bra' on their 3 Feet High And Rising LP, (its relentless funk also underpins a club scene in Spike Lee's The 25th Hour), while EPMD, the KLF, MC Solaar, Heavy D and dozens of others plundered Cymande's back catalogue to toughen up their beats and rhymes.

Fast forward 40 years the band miraculously reformed, helped enormously by some royalties injections and boom! Here they were gracing the prestigious Ronnie Scotts' stage something they'd hoped to have achieved when they first started!

Relaxed and informal, bandleader and guitarist Patrick Patterson sauntered on chatty and informative whilst the band launch straight into one of their bone deep classics 'Brothers On The Slide' sending a shiver down the backs of an ever eager audience who were ready to lap up their afrocentric grooves and all round funky blessedness. Percussionist Ruben Gonsales took the first solo of the evening, with a rootsy break (on his hallowed nyabinghi drum) underpinned by master drummer, Sam Kelly.Sam's drums are bang on the beat, not behind and not in front coupled with Steve Scipio's bouncy and crisp bass,the carpet if you like, was being well and truly laid!

The gospel tinged 'Baby Ooh' was a particular highlight of the evening a tune that morphed into a soul,reggae jazz tribute to Curtis Mayfield (People Get Ready),Toots & The Maytals (54-46 ) and Miles Davis (So What) showed what an agile and dextrous outfit Cymande were. The horn Section of Derek Gibbs,alto and soprano sax ,Ray Carless,tenor and Kevin Daly,trumpet were in fine fettle too bouncing off each other's solos and then reforming for their tight as a steel trap hornlines as demonstrated with the closing, bass driven tune of the evening, 'The Message'- quite simply sublime stuff! A fantastic night at Ronnies from an entertaining band filled with a mesmerising presence who seemed tickled pink to playing there ! And just in case you are wondering where the name comes from it's origins lay in an old calypso song 'Dove And Pigeon'-the hook was "coo-coo-coo-coo-fan-cy-mandy. "Thus endeth the lesson!
Words Emrys Baird

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