The Music of Cream: No Ordinary Tribute Band
It’s a safe bet there’s no shortage of Cream tribute bands scattered across the rock landscape. None, however, can lay claim to that concept in quite the way that Malcolm Bruce, Kofi Baker and Will Johns can. As the sons, respectively, of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker—and, in the case of Johns, the nephew of Eric Clapton—each musician has Cream music coursing through his veins. Indeed the trio, who call themselves, simply, The Music of Cream, bristle at the “tribute band” tag.
“This is not a tribute band,” says Baker, speaking with Teamrock as the group prepares for a late spring tour of Australia and New Zealand. “I think we push it further than it’s ever gone before.”
“We are absolutely not interested in playing [Cream music] note for note, mimicking what has already been done,” echoes Bruce. “There are tribute acts that can do this already, but I think that misses the point of what this music was about in the first place. As my Dad said on more than one occasion, Cream were a jazz band… it’s just they didn’t tell Eric.”
Lest anyone doubt the trio’s seriousness and credibility, it should be noted that former Deep Purple bassist/singer Glenn Hughes and acclaimed guitarist Robben Ford are joining The Music of Cream onstage for the upcoming tour. Furthermore, Bruce, Baker and Johns have been honing their skills for years, backing the likes of Clapton, Elton John and Ronnie Wood, and performing together in various venues in the U.S. and the U.K.
“Obviously, we grew up with our parents so we got to experience exactly how they thought,” says Baker. “[We] had real insight into how they created the music, how they approached it. Nobody else has this very powerful connect.”
“It’s definitely in the genes,” concurs Bruce, “and the sheer fact that we grew up learning, working and interacting with the original members of Cream gives us a particular sensitivity and insight into the music and how it should be approached.”
For the moment, the group’s eyes are firmly trained on the upcoming tour, but both Bruce and Baker see even bigger things on the horizon. “I love playing with Malcolm and Will, and having Glenn Hughes and Robben Ford involved is just icing on the cake,” says Baker. “There’s lots of interest and scope for other musicians to guest with us as we take this project around the world.”
Bruce adds that there may even be an album in the band’s future. “We’ve been talking about that,” he says. “Actually one idea is to make a record called Half and Half, which would consist of half Cream songs and half original material within a similar style to Cream. We are starting to work on material and should have something ready soon.”
For more information about the band and the tour, visit the official Music of Cream website.