Thursday, 9 February 2017

Percy Jones on the Return of Brand X

Percy Jones on the Return of Brand X

January 25, 2017


“The gigs all went very well,” says Percy Jones of the recent reunion of his band Brand X, which performed a successful string of shows this past fall. “We hadn’t played together with this lineup doing this material since 1977, so there was initially a sense of trepidation not knowing how the music would connect after 39 years. That was quickly dispelled after the first gig.” It was an event that the band’s many fans have long awaited, and there are more dates planned for early 2017.

It’s hard to believe that four decades have passed since the Welsh bassist first emerged as an early fretless pioneer. Inspired by the playing of upright master Charles Mingus, young Percy filed down the frets under the string of an old Gretsch semiacoustic long-scale bass, creating what he called a hybrid fretted-fretless. He eventually ditched it for a fretless 1974 Fender Precision, and with that he was off to the races. Developing a unique approach, Jones delivered chops-busting angular bass lines and peppered them with sputtering three-finger fills, double-stops, and sliding harmonics.

Co-founding Brand X in 1975 with guitarist John Goodsall and others, the group pushed boundaries with its inventive instrumental music and garnered wide attention when Genesis drummer Phil Collins joined a year later. Brand X helped define jazz-fusion’s late-’70s heyday with well-received albums like Unorthodox Behavior and Morrocan Roll. After the group split, Jones continued on with a string of creative projects, including his group Tunnels and his 1990 solo release Cape Catastrophe. Although he has increasingly veered into experimental music with recent releases, the past year has seen somewhat of a return to form for Percy with his latest quartet MJ12, which released its debut album this past summer, and the reunion of Brand X.

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