That was the recipe for success for Blood, Sweat & Tears. Now, 40 years later, David Clayton-Thomas is still delivering the goods.
The singer from the band that invented jazz-rock is still singing up a storm, this time fronting his own
band, with an expanded horn section. While Blood, Sweat & Tears sans its trademark singer still tours as an oldies act, Clayton-Thomas is performing selected venues with a show that includes the hits from his tenure with BS&T as well as newer material. Clayton-Thomas will be performing with his band at Manistees Little River Casino on Saturday, March 7.
There was no creative push in the band anymore, said Clayton-Thomas from his home in Toronto. Im a singer/songwriter. I need to make new music.
That led to his departure from the band he had been fronting for most of its existence, and to whom he had contributed such hits as Spinning Wheel and Go Down Gamblin.
Id meet guys at the airport, and theyd be Blood, Sweat and Tears that night, he continued. After 35 years I was the only one left. It just got old.
But true to his creative nature, Clayton-Thomas wasnt finished. A return to his hometown of Toronto and meeting with an old friend, onetime BS&T trumpeter Bruce Cassidy, led to new music, and a new band.
We said, Lets go into the studio and push the envelope, Clayton-Thomas recalled. The result was a new album, Spectrum, and an expanded band, upping the count from four horns to six: two trumpets, two saxes and two trombones.
Its got a bigger bottom end, he said, pointing to the use of baritone sax and bass trombone. Those two horns make an enormous difference. Were expanding
the charts. Im enjoying it a lot.
That wasnt necessarily the case by the time of his departure from Blood, Sweat and Tears. The tours had become a grind, with over 150 dates a year. Now, Clayton-Thomas limits it to about 20 shows per year.
Not only was BS&T the first band to combine jazz and rock, it had great success in doing so. Not many people know that Blood, Sweat and Tears performed at Woodstock, and was the first rock band to tour behind the Iron Curtain and in Las Vegas.
What made Blood, Sweat and Tears different was the horns. But what really stood out was that these guys were conservatory grads, Clayton-Thomas noted. That was pretty much unknown in rock. When I joined, it was a jazz band with jazz players. It was a gray area. I remember when John Lennon saw a show of ours, he was asked what he thought of the new rock group. He said, Thats not rock. Theyre too bloody competent, Clayton-Thomas said with a hearty laugh.
The audience in Manistee can still expect to hear the best tunes from those halcyon Blood, Sweat and Tears days, along with others. Well do God Bless the Child, You Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel, And When I Die, but theres new stuff coming in all the time, he said.
Its special to see faces light up.
David Clayton-Thomas and his band will be performing at Little River Casino at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. For ticket information, call 800-585-3737 or log onto littlerivercasinos.com.