I first encountered David Bond (b. 1950, El Paso, TX) around 1980 when he put out his first record (Odyssey, Vineyard Records), a recording that suggested more promise than it received notice. By 1990, and the release of his next recording, that promise seemed to be taking shape.
David’s sax style is a combination of genteel melodic vibrato and quirky direction with touches of Bechet, Johnny Hodges, and Ornette Coleman and suggests no sense of grandstanding. David’s very open sound seems devoid of any pretension and, while it brings a personalness to his work, it also seems to reflect his overall professional promotion as his recordings are fairly devoid of any liner hype or basic background. In fact, it’s rather hard to find any background information on him other than that he’s been around, playing since the ‘70s “performing in New York, New England, and Europe with … such as Archie Shepp and Dewey Redman … performed at Lincoln Center, the Black Musicians Conference,” etc. This info is often found in the company of a Village Voice quote saying, among other things, “… Big tone … with brains and brawn.” Curious, as I’ve never thought of David’s playing as big toned. However, brains does suggest itself with every solo. Ironically, happening upon John Coltrane turned David on to a life of music. Ironic since David shows no genuflects in his sound to that icon, though a connected sense of spirituality may be present.
In the Spring of 2005, David sent me what was the first in a number of his archived recordings (all clearly showing how formed his approach already was) and some not so vintage recordings, often in the company of other saxophonists whose styles and dynamic greatly contrasted with his own. One of these others was Andrew White (b.1942, Washington, D.C.), who is about as quirky and distinctive as they come. The voicing between these two sax men was so fresh as to verge on the bizarre, and seemed at once to move David’s music both to the more Avant as well as suggestions of traditional Chicago-style rooted Jazz.
Let me say a word about Andrew White. I’ve been an unabashed fan and follower of his music since I first encountered him when he was a member of the JFK Quintet in 1960. One of the great characters in this business, his playing is just as unique. I was intrigued when David proposed that I produce their pairing live, though, knowing that Andrew records infrequently on anything other than his Andrew’s Music label, I had my doubts about the feasibility of such an arrangement.
Even so, David set it up and we worked out the details: a venue reported to be both listener- and artist- friendly and a group familiar to both horn men. Luther Gray (b.1972, New Orleans, LA), best known for his association with the New England-based avant garde, has been working with David for a few years. Bob Butta (b.1953, Baltimore, MD) who, along with Luther on David’s 2003 release The Spirit Speaks (Vineyard), has been on the scene since the 1980s and has a slim discography that includes recording with Leon Thomas and Gary Bartz. Steve Novosel (b. 1940, Farrell, PA) first came to my attention through his work with Roland Kirk, but his extensive career has also included stints as diverse as Soprano Summit and Charles Tolliver’s Music Inc. Most important here is that Steve has been a mainstay on Andrew’s various projects since 1969.
The band opened (the early show) on a strong note. David said earlier that the previous night’s opening set had been very strong and this surely had to equal that. I’ll tell you, it is always a kick when a group gets together to play. For listening that’s unencumbered by limiting or distracting concerns, check out Bob Butta, house pianist in many clubs for many years, tearing up the piano (that’s David’s aside you hear during “Dew Drops/ Lyons” giving Bob his due) and, along with Steve and Luther, goosing out this music in support of these mighty saxmen.
The group played into the early hours of the next day, with a remarkable spirited energy that may have reflected a truth in Bob Butta’s remarks to me during the evening’s only break, “It’s so much fun.” But it’s also work.
It was obvious these guys came to play. They played without reserve and producing music bigger than the band stand (which meaured about 16 feet x 5 feet. For those who remember—about as wide as the original 5 Spot’s and as narrow as the Metropole’s.). The music on this night remained intense over the four hour gig. Where Steve Lacy tried to “lift the band stand,” these guys shrank it and were as freewheeling as they were focused.
Artistic realization and discovery is a moving and beautiful experience and—every so often—orgasmic. Listen.
Robert D. Rusch - Oct. 22, 2006