By Don Heckman
Beverly Hills. They’re back. That’s right. Blood, Sweat & Tears, one of American popular music’s great iconic ensembles of the ’60s, ’70s and beyond.
After decades of uncertainty about B,S&T’s future, the new millenium did not initially appear to offer high visibility for a band who, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was one of the most popular, best selling musical acts in the world.
Enter Bobby Colomby. As one of the original founders of Blood, Sweat & Tears, as well as the band’s drummer and producer in its early, high visibility years, he felt that it was time for the New Blood, Sweat & Tears to make an appearance. And, last Saturday night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Colomby introduced Los Angelenos to a brand new version of the band designed to play a visible and vital role in the 21st century.
“We’re not trying to target just one generation,” says Colomby.,. “That would be a mistake. With this updated version, I want to gain a wider audience. I want people of all ages to come and say, ‘Next time I’m bringing more friends to the show; they gotta see this band.”
And that’s pretty much what Colomby and the gifted players of the New Blood Sweat & Tears offered in their Saturday night show.
Most pop music acts who have reached beyond their prime years often depend completely upon their greatest hits, or similarly crafted material, to carry them through a performance. Which is not surprising. But Colomby’s wide pop music experience and creative devotion to the band he founded have always led him to more imaginative ambitions.
“We’re not just looking for songs that sound like they’d be good for Blood, Sweat & Tears,” he says, “but looking for really great songs. Period. The original B,S&T,” he continues, “was designed to introduce jazz elements to pop music. That was my passion… it still is. Always, of course, done in an entertaining way.”
And there was no lack of Colomby’s view of the band’s entertainment capacity in their high energy Saturday night performance at the Saban Theatre. And it was especially valuable as an opportunity for the overflow crowd to meet the stellar instrumental sound richly reminiscent of B,S &T’s most memorable jazz big band qualities.
The band, man for man, pound for pound, is better than the original B, S & T.,” says Colomby. “Without a doubt.They’re a ridiculously talented bunch,The drummer’s better than I am, or was.”
Equally important, maybe even more so, new lead singer Bo Bice provided captivating performances, calling up images of David Clayton-Thomas’s B,S &T’s hard driving vocals at their best. No one can really top David C-T, but Colomby’s discovery of Bice’s impressive singing added the final touch that the new Blood, Sweat and Tears needed to establish its relevance as a pop music act with a potential similar to the successes of the band’s ’60s and ’70s’ accomplishments.
So let’s call the band’s Saturday night performance a captivating introduction to a band that combines the memory of a brilliant musical past with a wide open potential for a brand new future.
Don’t forget the name: Blood, Sweat & Tears.
* * * * * * * *
Full Disclosure: For what it’s worth as a reference point, I co-produced the last big Blood, Sweat & Tears album, “B,S&T 4” with Bobby Colomby and engineer Roy Halee.