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Cymande Biography

Described as “spiritual…versatile…smooth, sweet and very different”, no-one has yet to sum up the unique sound of Cymande in one simple word or phrase. 

Nyah-Rock, Afro-Rock, even Calypso Rock have been used to categorise their music, but Cymande is just simply Cymande. 
Formed over 40 years ago by Steve Scipio and Patrick Patterson, the band was made up of nine self-taught Caribbean born, London based musician/singers: 

Steve Scipio (Bass, vocals)
Patrick Patterson (Guitar, vocals)
Sam Kelly (Drums)
Mike Rose (Sax, flute, percussion)
Pablo Gonzales (Percussion, vocals)
Derek Gibbs (Alto sax)
Ray King & Joey Dee (Vocals)
Peter Serreo (Sax)

Desmond Atwell (tenor sax) subsequently replaced Peter Serreo. Jimmy Lindsay joined the band for the recording of the latter half of the third album, Promised Heights” in place of Joey Dee.

Cymande’s longevity and success has been achieved by its totally original style and exclusively self-penned songs, welding together the diverse strands of reggae and Rastafarian rhythms with funk, soul, R&B, jazz, rock, African music and West Indian folk the band grew up with.

The Music of Cymande conveys a true spirit of togetherness reflected in the band’s emblem which incorporates a dove symbolizing peace and love. 

In 1971 the group met John Schroeder, Cymande’s long-standing producer, in a basement club in London’s Soho, where he had gone to audition another act. The rapport was immediate, Schroeder recollecting “an atmosphere of electric excitement”, and together they became totally immersed, hour after hour alternating between from rehearsal rooms and recording studio, honing their distinctive style. 

At the 1972 MIDIM Music Industry Fair in Cannes, Schroader introduced Marvin Schlacter, President of Chess/Janus Records to two of Cymande’s recordings. This led to a request by Chess/Janus 
Records for enough material to fill an album, and so, the self-entitled album “Cymande” was born, becoming the fastest selling record on the Chess/Janus Record Label. 

“The Message” backed by “Zion 1” was the first single to be released, and its success triggered a whirlwind of events, with Bob Schwald appointed as Cymande’s U.S. Manager. With solid airplay and a very complimentary U.S. Music Press, the band soon achieved the rare distinction of listings in all three of the key U.S. national Charts – Jazz, R&B and Pop. 

Easy to listen to, easy to dance to, yet full of emotion and meaning, Cynamde’s music arrived Stateside with some considerable force.

An invitation to tour with Al Green followed quickly, leading to frantic rehearsals, jangled nerves, and for a band used to playing before crowds of up to 300 people, suddenly they were thrust before huge audiences, performing at giant venues across the U.S. 

The tour was a huge success, and demand grew for more material. When the tour ended, Cymande returned to London and went straight back into the recording studio to start work on their second album, entitled Second Time Round. 
Consolidating the success and acceptance of the band in America, a second U.S. Tour followed, headlined by Cymande themselves - the ultimate compliment. 

Cymande went on to tour with Jerry Butler, Patti La Bell, Billy Preston, Ramsey Lewis, Edwin Starr, Albert King, KC and The Sunshine Band, Kool and the Gang and the Latin ensemble Mandrill. 
They made history by becoming the first British based band to perform at the world renowned Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.

While on tour, with their follow-up single to “The Message”, entitled “Bra” moving up the charts, the idea of recording a third album was conceived. Cymande recorded their 3rd album in Chicago at the Chess/Janus Studios, where artists such as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones had previously recorded. 
But while the band embraced the opportunity and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Chicago, the frantic pace of their meteoric rise in the U.S. finally caught up with them. 

Musically, the magic remained, yet, the tell-tale signs of tiredness, tetchiness and being away from home for long periods of time began to show. 

The third album Promised Heights was released in 1974, through Contempo Records in England. The English music scene failed to appreciate the music of Cymande unlike US audiences for several years to come, and in 1975, with band members reluctant to return to small venues and break through the barriers firmly in place for black musicians in the mid 70’s, Cymande stopped performing. 

Cymande’s legacy stands strong, with a large cult following both in the U.K. and the U.S.A. They are one of the most sampled black British bands of all time. The music of Cymande heavily influenced the Rare Groove/Deep House scene of the 1980’s and sampling by Hip Hop music artists including de La Soul, MC Solar continues today. 

Bra was included in the music soundtrack for Spike Lee’s motion picture “Crooklyn” and Dove, another Cymande classic, featured prominently in Lees “25th hour”. 

Steve and Patrick have continued to write throughout the interim period, and in 2010 they called the original core band members,their producer and sound engineer back together to explain their new vision. In 2011, together, they started rehearsals and are now ready to release their 4th Album some 40 years after the release of their 3rd album. Not only is it a supremely fine album that captures the sound and essence of the band as it was when their music first burst onto the scene, but it also fulfils the promise of this reinvention in 2014. 

The core band members of Cymande 2014 are: 

Steve Scipio (Bass, vocals)
Patrick Patterson (Guitar, vocals)
Sam Kelly (Drums)
Mike Rose (Sax, flute, percussion)
Pablo Gonzales (Percussion, vocals)
Derek Gibbs (Sax)

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