Hummingbird

Hummingbird was an English-American jazz-funk band that released three albums between 1975 and 1977 on A&M: Hummingbird, We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This, and Diamond Nights. They featured three-fifths of the second Jeff Beck Group, including keyboardist Max Middleton, who plays on Beck’s 1975–76 jazz-rock albums Blow by Blow and Wired.

Members: Bobbie Tench (vocals, guitar), Max Middleton (keyboards), Clive Chaman (bass, flute), Bernie Holland (guitar), Conrad Isadore (drums), Robert Ahwai (guitar), Bernard Purdie (drums, percussion), Linda Lewis (vocals), Madeline Bell (vocals), Liza Strike (vocals)


Background

Hummingbird formed when three members of the second Jeff Beck Group — singer–guitarist Bobby Tench, keyboardist Max Middleton, and bassist Clive Chaman — regrouped after session stints behind Hanson and Linda Lewis. They formed the first Hummingbird lineup with drummer Conrad Isadore and second guitarist Bernie Holland.

Bobby Tench (b. September 21, 1944) originated as a multi-instrumentalist and singer in The Gass, a sixties Caribbean–British band that cut three singles and served as the pit band for a London production of Catch My Soul, a rock-musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. As Gass, they released their lone studio album, Juju, in 1970 on Polydor. Along with two Gass bandmates, Tench formed Gonzalez, one of England’s first Latin-rock groups.

Before Gonzalez recorded, Tench joined the second Jeff Beck Group, which also featured bassist Clive Chaman, keyboardist Max Middleton, and drummer Cozy Powell. Tench replaced their initial singer Alex Ligertwood, whose contributions were vetoed by Epic, the band’s label. Tench sings on the 1971–72 Beck Group albums Rough and Ready and Jeff Beck Group (colloquially known as “the orange album”). Tench briefly followed Beck into a new band with the Vanilla FudgeCactus rhythm section, before they coalesced as the rock trio Beck, Bogert & Appice. As Bobby Gass, Tench appeared as a session guitarist (alongside Fela Kuti) on the 1972 release Stratavarious by ex-CreamBlind Faith drummer Ginger Baker.

In February 1973, Tench (along with Chaman) reunited with Gass bassist–percussionist DeLisle Harper and Juju session guitarist Junior Marvin on Now Hear This, the first of two albums by Marvin’s funk band Hanson. Concurrently, Tench — along with Middleton and future Rod Stewart sidemen Phil Chen (bass) and Jim Cregan (ex-Blossom Toes and Stud, guitar) — backed Linda Lewis on Fathoms Deep, her second solo album.

American blues guitarist Freddie King (1934–1976) employed Tench as a rhythm guitarist on the 1974–75 RSO albums Burglar and Larger Than Life, both produced by British blues-rock entrepreneur Mike Vernon, a soundman on Blue Horizon titles by Chicken Shack and Peter Green‘s Fleetwood Mac.

Max Middleton (b. August 4, 1946) was a classically trained keyboardist who met Jeff Beck in 1970 through Chaman, the former bassist of Romeo Z. After the two Beck Group albums and Now Hear This, Middleton contributed to Streetwalkers, the 1974 album by ex-Family mainstays Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney. As Humingbird got underway, Tench doubled in Chapman and Whitney’s subsequent band, Streetwalkers. Meanwhile, Middleton played on Hair of a Dog, the 1975 release by Scottish hard rockers Nazareth.

Clive Chaman (b. September 5, 1949, Trinidad) originated in Romeo Z with his vocalist brother, Stan Chaman. They cut the 1967 CBS single “Come Back Baby Come Back” (b/w “Since My Baby Said Goodbye”) and performed the title song in Kaleidoscope, a 1966 British chase comedy starring Warren Beatty and Susannah York. Their trombonist, Eric Allendale, joined the Ramong Sound, which evolved into The Foundations.

In 1969, Chaman played bass on Black London Blues, the second album by Guyanese–American folk-blues singer–guitarist Ram John Holder. After the two Jeff Beck Group albums and the sessions for Now Hear This, he joined Cozy Powell’s Hammer. He also appears on Donovan‘s 1973 release Cosmic Wheels and (along with Stan Chaman) the 1974 SagaPan Records remake of the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

Conrad Isadore (b. 194?, Dominica) got his start in Joe E Young & The Toniks, a London-based soul rock band with Antiguan migrants Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels (bass) and Colin Young (vocals). They morphed into the Sundae Times,> which cut three singles on Toast Records, a subsidiary of Major Minor. Equals frontman Eddie Grant produced their 1968 album Soul Buster and used the Isadore co-write “Instant Love” as a 1969 Equals b-side. Young joined the Foundations for their transatlatnic hit “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Samuels later surfaced in Stephen Stills’ Manassas.

Meanwhile, Isadore cut a 1969 Fontana album as part of the soul-psych septet One, which featured (future Zzebra) Alan Marshall. In 1970, he drummed on “Happy Being Me,” the fifteen-minute centerpiece of Volume Two by Manfred Mann Chapter Three. Aside from Now Hear This and Fathoms Deep, he notched credits on 1971–74 albums by Stills, Joe Cocker, Paul Kossoff, Reebop Kwaku Baah, Terry Reid, Vinegar Joe, and Stills’ French wife Veronique Sanson.

Bernie Holland had brief stints in Bluesology and Linda Lewis’s Ferris Wheel. He joined Jody Grind for their 1970 second album Far Canal and did subsequent sessions for The Humblebums, Meic Stevens, Stealers Wheel (Ferguslie Park), and Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind (One by One). For Patto, he deputized bassist Clive Griffiths on a March 1971 Pop Deux broadcast.


1975

Jeff Beck jammed briefly with Hummingbird but didn’t contribute to their recordings. As the band secured its A&M deal, Middleton contributed to Blow by Blow, Beck’s first of two instrumental jazz-rock albums, both produced by Beatles soundman George Martin, who worked concurrently with Stackridge and America. Meanwhile, Hummingbird linked with America’s original producer, Ian Samwell, a onetime guitarist in Cliff Richard‘s pre-Shadows band The Drifters.


Hummingbird

Hummingbird released their self-titled debut album in 1975 on A&M. Conrad Isadore composed five of the album’s nine songs: “Music Flowing,” “Such a Long Ways,” and everything on Side Two apart from “Maybe,” a joint composition by Bobby Tench, Clive Chaman, Max Middleton, and songwriter Mike Finesilver, who wrote psychedelic-era hits for the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (“Fire”) and Love Sculpture (“In the Land of the Few”).

Side One also contains Bernie Holland’s “Horrors” and the group-written “You Can Keep the Money,” plus the Stevie Wonder cover “I Don’t Know Why I Love You.”

A1. “Music Flowing” (4:25)
A2. “You Can Keep the Money” (3:16)
A3. “Such a Long Ways” (4:12)
A4. “Horrors” (3:40)
A5. “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (5:55)
B1. “Maybe” (5:25)
B2. “For the Children’s Sake” (3:50)
B3. “Ocean Blues” (5:37)
B4. “Island of Dreams” (7:33)

Recorded At – Scorpio Sound, Air Studios, Apple Studios
Producer – Hummingbird, Ian Samwell
Engineer – Dennis Weinreich, John Punter (B1, B2), Phil McDonald

Bass – Clive Chaman
Drums – Conrad Isidore
Guitar – Bernie Holland
Keyboards – Max Middleton
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Bobby Tench

Congas – Godfrey McLean (B4)
Vocals – Linda Lewis
Backing Vocals – Sandra Isidore (B2)

Design – John Kosh
Photography – Jeff Baynes


Lineup Change

Conrad Isadore cleared for American drummer Bernard Purdie, who played in James Brown‘s late-sixties backing band and served as Aretha Franklin‘s music director. As a sessionist, he played on more than 150 albums between 1969 and 1975. In 1974, he scored a jazz-funk soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Lialeh.

As sessions commenced on the second Hummingbird album, they invited Fathoms Deep sessionist Robert Ahwai as an auxiliary third guitarist. Along with Holland and Middleton, he plays on Linda Lewis’s 1975 Arista release Not a Little Girl Anymore. Ahwai also plays on Our Only Weapon Is Our Music, the 1975 second album by Tench’s former band, Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Chaman played on Reinforcements, the 1975 release by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Elsewhere, Holland backed Joan Armatrading on her second album Back to the Night, her first for A&M. Tench did his parts on the 1975–76 Vertigo titles Downtown Flyers and Red Card, the first two albums by Chapman–Whitney’s Streetwalkers.


1976

Middleton plays on Wired, the 1976 second album in Jeff Beck’s instrumental jazz-rock series. It features drummer–composer Narada Michael Walden and ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer. Middleton wrote the opening track, “Led Boots.”

Tench sings backing vocals on Bloodletting, the second-recorded album by Boxer, the third and final joint-band of Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall. Bloodletting remained vaulted until 1979 when Virgin released it (after their 1977 third-recorded album Absolutely) after Patto’s death. Tench also sings backing vocals on Widowmaker, the post-Mott the Hoople project of Ariel Bender (aka Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor).

Meanwhile, Purdie earned credits on 1976 titles by Essra Mohawk, Jorge Dalto, Mongo Santamaria, Roy Ayers Ubiquity, Saundra Hewitt, Steely Dan (The Royal Scam), and The Tymes.

Ahwai, likewise, earned concurrent credits with the Martyn Ford Orchestra, Birmingham funksters the J.A.L.N. Band, Liverpool soulsters the Real Thing, and Pilot keyboardist William Lyall.


We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This

Hummingbird released their second album, We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This, in August 1976 on A&M.

A1. “Fire and Brimstone” (4:57)
A2. “Gypsy Skys” (5:20)
A3. “Trouble Maker” (3:14)
A4. “Scorpio” (4:14)
A5. “We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This” (4:19)
B1. “The City Mouse” (4:49)
B2. “A Friend Forever” (5:30)
B3. “Heaven Knows (Where You’ve Been)” (4:05)
B4. “Snake Snack” (4:29)
B5. “Let It Burn” (5:02)

Bobby Tench — guitar, vocals
Max Middleton — keyboards, moog synthesizers
Clive Chaman — bass, harmonica
Bernie Holland — guitar
Bernard Purdie — drums

Madeline Bell — backing vocals
Joanne Williams — backing vocals
Liza Strike — backing vocals

Ian Samwell — producer


Diamond Nights

Hummingbird released their third album, Diamond Nights, in 1977 on A&M.

A1. “Got My “Led Boots” On” (3:41)
A2. “Spirit” (3:35)
A3. “Cryin’ for Love” (3:14)
A4. “She Is My Lady” (5:01)
A5. “You Can’t Hide Love” (4:25)
B1. “Anaconda” (5:50)
B2. “Madatcha” (3:48)
B3. “Losing You (Ain’t No Doubt About You)” (3:57)
B4. “Spread Your Wings” (4:15)
B5. “Anna’s Song” (3:28)

Bobby Tench — lead guitar, guitar, vocals
Max Middleton — keyboards, moog synthesizers
Clive Chaman — bass, flute
Robert Ahwai — guitar
Bernard Purdie — drums, percussion, string arrangements, brass arrangements

Airto Moreira, Pancho Morales — percussion

Backing vocals: Venetta Fields, Maxine Willard, Julia Tillman, Stephanie Spruill, Paulette McWilliams, Lisa Freeman Roberts,

Brass arrangements: Jim Horn, Quitman Dennis, Chuck Findley, Horace Ott (also strings)

Ian Samwell — producer
Trey Aven — illustration


Chaman
Score – Duncan Mackay (1977)
Happiness Heartaches – Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express (1977)
Diamond Nights – Hummingbird (1977)
Badness – Morrissey–Mullen (1981)
Raven Eyes album of Japanese heavy metal guitarist, Raven Ohtani which was released in 1984.

Tench
Vicious But Fair
Van Morrison and Wavelength

Middleton
soundtrack to the film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)[4] and Nazareth’s most successful album, Hair of the Dog (1975). In 1977 he played keyboards on the Rhead Brothers first EMI album ‘Dedicate‘, later writing and arranging a score for the track, ‘When the Seagull flies’ on their second album Black Shaheen.

In 1979, he played keyboards on Morrissey–Mullen’s Cape Wrath and released Another Sleeper in the same year, an instrumental album with guitarist Robert Ahwai. This classic jazz-funk album was released along with Cape Wrath, on Fusion Harvest/EMI Records, the duo is supported by Richard Bailey, Kuma Harada, Darryl Lee Que, Steve Gregory, Bud Beadle, George Chisholm, Trevor Barber, Chris Rainbow and some backing vocalists.

In 1980 Middleton was involved with the arrangements on and played keyboards for Kate Bush’s Never For Ever,[5] which had album and single success.[6] The following year he played on John Martyn’s first album for WEA, Glorious Fool. Throughout the 1980s he was also involved with Chris Rea playing on Shamrock Diaries, On the Beach, New Light Through Old Windows, The Road to Hell, Auberge, God’s Great Banana Skin, Espresso Logic, La Passione, The Blue Cafe, The Road to Hell: Part 2 and King of the Beach. He produced Dick Morrissey’s Souliloquy (1988) on which he played keyboards.[7] He also toured regularly with Mick Taylor’s band during the mid to late 1990s. Middleton is credited as co-writer with Gary Moore of “The Loner” from Cozy Powell’s album Over the Top (1979) and as co-writer of “The Loner” from Gary Moore’s album Wild Frontier (1987).


Discography:


Sources:

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