The first rehearsals initially began in 1965, with a small circle of members from the Jeremy Steig group "The Satyrs." They included pianist Warren Bernhardt, acoustic bassist Hal Galor (later replaced by Eddie Gomez, and then electric bassist Tony Levin), drummer and resident guru Donald MacDonald, guitarist Joe Beck, and myself. By 1969, this ensemble gradually grew into what became a 'tribal experience.' Our wives, husbands, friends, lovers and children were as important to the experience as the music itself. After all, it was the 60s.
Some nights only a few stragglers would arrive, but there were many nights 20 or 30 hippies would play, sing and dance until we shook the 50s out of our skins. The musical ideas were launched from single sketches and vamps that would sometimes last for nearly an hour: changing shape, tempos and soloists, depending on who suddenly fell by or split. Everyone had a choice to blow, sing, or perform spoken word.
Perhaps the makeshift lyrics on some of the 'shouts' seem naïve and a little corny now, but they were sung as an affirmation as to why we were there together. The experience was ours, and it bonded us for life.
On a few occasions, the White Elephant Band performed in public as a 23 piece group, but that 'Elephant' wasn't designed to fly. Instead, this 'tribal experience' spawned several permutations that proliferated in smaller ensembles. Dreams, Ars Nova, The Brecker Brothers, L'Image and Steps Ahead, were a few of the goups that followed. I hope the music contained in these recordings brings you back to that special time, and allows you to reflect on the mmuicians involved, who have played an instrumental part in my life.