David Bond: Neighbor and Jazzman

April 17, 2012

For some Back Bay residents, the upcoming Jazz Week is a once-a-year opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of jazz. For Marlborough Street resident David Bond, jazz is a full-time profession. Performing, composing, or teaching– jazz is part of his days and nights.

Inspired by Coltrane

Bond was a political science major when he heard a pair of John Coltrane albums. “Never had heard anything like that before and I had always played saxaphone,” explained Bond. “I said, well, that’s what I want to do.” He had his direction in life.

Next, he found great teachers. At the UMass Amherst Jazz Program, he studied with masters of the art like Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Yusef Lateef. Then came time spent performing and a move to New York City, followed by a stint teaching. Bond was asked to set up a jazz program at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Western Massachusetts and spent ten years in that role.

Performing, Composing, Teaching

These days, putting together a life as a jazz musician takes a combination of skills. Bond performs, composes, and teaches. He recently founded his own recording label, Nirvana Productions, and will be releasing  a series of recordings over the next year.

Jazz critic and historian, Bob Rusch described Bond’s style as, “…a combination of genteel melodic vibrato and quirky direction with touches of [Sidney] Bechet, Johnny Hodges, and Ornette Coleman and suggests no sense of grandstanding.” He feels that, “David’s very open sound seems devoid of any pretension, while it brings a personalness to his work…” Rusch also found a sense of spirituality in Bond’s sound that threads his work back to Coltrane.

Jazz Times Are Changing

Bond explained how things have changed for professional musicians in Boston. “There are still as many concerts that you can go to as an audience,” he said. “But, for a performer who needs to make a living, there is less opportunity to perform.” In part, this is because Boston has such a large population of students who are willing to play for free and because major traditional jazz venues like the Regattabar are booking fewer dates.

Passing on jazz tradition is important to Bond. “I played at Ryles last year,” he said, “and I hired all Berklee guys.” He wanted to get a different interpretation, rhythm, and energy into the group. Bond called it a modern approach and talked about the way the bass player was a hit with his daughter and younger members of the audience.

In return, Bond hopes that when he performs with younger players, he can give them a link to the past with a style that was influenced by players they’ll never hear, except through him.

Jazz Week

“Boston is such a vibrant community because of the students, and because of the concerts, and Jazz Week is a perfect way of promoting it,” Bond said.

For 10 days, from April 27 to May 6, “Jazz Week ‘12 International” will put the spotlight on the cultural diversity that gives the Greater Boston jazz scene its unique flavor. Hundreds of talented musicians, both home grown and from around the world, will perform in over 90 venues in and around the city, and special cross-cultural collaborations will highlight the power of jazz to create unity from diversity.

You can learn more about Jazz week at www.jazzboston.org and keep up with Bond’s performance schedule and new releases at www.DavidBondJazz.com.

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