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Thread: AAJ Review: John Mayall, The First Generation 1965-1974

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    AAJ Review: John Mayall, The First Generation 1965-1974

    My review of John Mayall, The First Generation 1965-1974 box set, today at All About Jazz.

    What do guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Jon Mark, Harvey Mandel and Freddy Robinson, reed/woodwind multi-instrumentalists John Almond, Ray Warleigh, Alan Skidmore, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Red Holloway and Ernie Watts, bassists John McVie, Jack Bruce, Andy Fraser, Tony Reeves, Stephen Thompson and Larry Taylor, drummers Mick Fleetwood, Keef Hartley, Aynsley Dunbar, Jon Hiseman and Collin Allen, trumpeters Henry Lowther and Blue Mitchell, and violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris all share in common? They are but a few of the notable musicians who passed through the revolving door of John Mayall's various groups in a career that now spans nearly six decades. Furthermore, they all participated in the British blues keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist, harmonica player and songwriter's seminal first decade as a bandleader, from 1965 to 1974.

    Now 87, Mayall is still going strong barring, of course, the impact of the current pandemic on touring. His most recent album, Nobody Told Me (Forty Below), was released in 2019, and he last appeared in Ottawa in 2012, where he delivered a knockout set at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, back when he was still just approaching octogenarian status.

    Despite continuing to act as a mentor to up-and-coming musicians across a recording career that now spans nearly six decades, Mayall's first ten years as a recording and performing blues artist remain his best-known and, overall, most loved. So many of the musicians who passed through the many incarnations of his Bluesbreakers band and subsequent groups from 1965 through 1974 would go on to even more significant personal artistic achievements and, in some cases, greater fame and fortune. Amongst them, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce moved on to form the guitar power trio Cream, before splitting up after a mere 29 months, with the guitarist building an even more successful solo career, a true guitar legend to this day.

    But it was Mayall's ever-shifting, ever-fertile musical turf that provided these and countless other musicians an early home to hone their skills in preparation for future accomplishments. A massive 35-CD box set and much, much more, The First Generation 1965-1974 finally places Mayall's seminal first decade as a bandleader in proper historical context. Containing newly remastered reissues of Mayall's first twelve studio albums, six live recordings and two compilations (including a few double-disc sets), many of them featuring additional bonus material, The First Generation 1965-1974 also includes Mayall's first two singles, and his EP-length All My Life EP Decca, 1967), with the already emergent American singer, harmonica master and bandleader, Paul Butterfield.

    Continue reading here...
    Last edited by jkelman; 4 Weeks Ago at 09:20 AM.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer


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