Vernon Reid in awe of bandmate Jack Bruce
Starstruck: Vernon Reid, second left, with Spectrum Road
Living Colour founder Vernon Reid says he can’t shake being starstruck when he’s playing with Cream icon Jack Bruce – but insists it’s no bad thing.
The pair are the driving force behind jazz-rock supergroup Spectrum Road, along with John Medeski and Cindy Blackman Santana. Their self-titled debut album was released yesterday and the band hit the road this weekend.
Guitarist Reid tells Music Radar: “The ‘Oh my God, I’m playing with Jack Bruce’ thought never goes away. And that’s fine. It’s okay to stay a little bit in awe of these people.
“You get past the whole legend thing, but then you don’t. I revere Jack Bruce – but I also see him as a dude. He’s fun, and he’s humble too. He doesn’t want to be this guy that people have to bow down to. That would be a horrible way to carry yourself, I would think.”
More important to Reid is the pair’s shared bond with blues music. He explains: “Jack is of a certain generation, the Keiths and the Micks and the Jimmy Pages – one that’s so steeped in the blues.
“Those records they listened to were so hard to come by. It’s also a class thing: he was part of the working class so the music came to him in a way that was powerful. He chose it, and that holds a lot of meaning.”
Spectrum Road came about as a tribute to the work of Tony Williams, but it’s grown since then. Reid says: “I really admit Tony and how he mixed rock and jazz.
“I asked Jack about Tony – he played with him in Lifetime – and we realised we had a story to tell with this kind of music. I spoke to Cindy because she’s such an unapologetic devotee of Tony. Then I reached out to John because he’s kooky, quirky and odd.”
Another new experience for the guitarist is playing with Blackman Santana, known for her work with Lenny Kravitz. “She’s a very funny person, but she’s an extraordinary player,” the guitarist says. “I’m blown away by how much she brings in. Beyond that, it’s a different dynamic having a female in the band. It’s not a bunch of dudes and all of that testosterone.”