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Jack Bruce RIP

JACK BRUCE, bassist and vocalist best known for his work with trailblazing rock trio Cream, died Saturday, according to an online announcement from his family; he was 71. The Glasgow-born Bruce possessed a powerful, distinctive voice and was a virtuoso musician with jazz chops; he played cello as well as bass both with Cream and in his extensive solo work. He came up in the British blues scene, playing in the Graham Bond Organization, where he met drummer Ginger Baker; later he joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he played with guitarist Eric Clapton. Bruce, Clapton and Baker formed Cream in 1966. Their improvisation-driven live shows upped the bar for group chemistry and their studio work (notably the essential album Disraeli Gears) produced a trove of rock staples including “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” “Strange Brew,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Badge.” It was an extraordinary musical partnership but also a tumultuous one, and by 1968 the band had released Goodbye Cream and disbanded. Bruce pursued a varied and adventurous solo career in the ensuing decades (his Songs for a Tailor is a high point), collaborated with such artists as Frank Zappa, Mountain’s Leslie West and Corky Laing, Robin Trower, Vernon Reid and Golden Palominos, and reunited with Cream in 1993 for their Hall of Fame induction and again for a 2005 concert. His most recent album, Silver Rails, was released just this year.  A post by Baker this morning mourns “a fine man.” “The world of music will be a poorer place without him,” reads the message from his family, “but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.” (10/25a)

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