Mike Lang has been a busy member of the Los Angeles musicians’ community for most of his adult life. He’s been an accompanist for performers reaching from Ella Fitzgerald to John Lennon. He’s recorded more than 2000 film scores And he’s written songs for Stan Getz, Fourplay, Herb Alpert and numerous others. On many of those dates, he worked musically hand in hand with his good friend, Jimmy Bond.
By Mike Lang
Jimmy Bond left us on April 26th. He was and is arguably as close a friend as I could ever wish for, always on the lookout for ways to help others…. in music, in laughter, in living a full vibrant life of which he was “the benchmark” (!). I was a major recipient of his warmth, extraordinary generosity and humor…. Hanging out with “007” was special!
Jimmy was mentored in Philadelphia, a jazz mecca, and the purity and swing of his bass playing was the result we’ve all enjoyed throughout the years. Jimmy made some historic recordings with Chet Baker, including the special presence of Bobby Timmons… his star was rising….
When Jimmy came to LA, he quickly became in demand for all kinds of work…. live and recorded jazz, and then…. freelance recording gigs with an incredibly diverse list of artists in so many fields: jazz, pop, rock, folk, gospel, R&B and more (!)….. Here’s a sampling:
Henry Mancini, Ella Fitzgerald, The Crusaders, Johnny Griffin, Maya Angelou, George Shearing, Paul Horn, Eric Dolphy, Chico Hamilton, Nina Simone, Randy Newman, Frank Zappa (Lumpy Gravy), Jimmy Witherspoon, Gerry Mulligan, Harry Nilsson, Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones, Tim Buckley, Sam Cook, Sonny Rollins, Tony Bennett, B B King, Don Shirley, Leon Russell, Terry Gibbs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Brownie McGhee, Johnny Hartman, The Stone Poneys, Ike and Tina Turner. He was the “standup bass” fixture in many of Phil Spector’s recording sessions (now labeled “The Wrecking Crew”), and, if I’m not mistaken, that’s about when we met…. (two “Jazzers” on a rock date… perfect!)
As time evolved, Jimmy became busy as an arranger, working for producers Nick Venet, David Axelrod, Ed Michel and others with artists Linda Ronstadt, The Turtles, The Knickerbockers, Linda Ronstadt, Fred Neill and others. Also, he was active as a composer and arranger of national jingles for Herman Edel, with film and television opportunities to follow.
His playing career continued to flourish, as he got busier and busier in film and television recording work… playing for the major studio orchestras including Alfred Newman at Fox, Joseph Gershenson at Universal and many others. At a time when very few African-American musicians were established in this field, Jimmy’s incredible grace, warmth, humor and skill opened all doors.
I am grateful to have shared so much with this incredible friend and musician. I miss him in all ways…. Thanks, Jimmy…. for all that you have done…
A memorial service for Jimmy Bond will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center on Saturday, May 26. For more information, click HERE.