Imagine one day hearing classic rockers Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings churning out a set filled with jazzier material.
It’s an idea under consideration to follow up last year’s Jukebox, Bachman Cummings’ 17-song set of mostly ‘60s rock covers.
“We’re compiling and sending each other 20 favourite bluesy jazz songs, so we can do, say, a Jazzbox in January or February, maybe,” Bachman, 64, says.
Adds Cummings, 60, “Randy and I both like a lot of the same stuff: Georgie Fame, Mose Allison … artists like those who have influenced us.”
Bachman recently tested the jazz waters with 2004’s Jazz Thing and last year’s Jazz Thing II.
But for both men, their love of jazz can be traced back to their previous bands. Wednesday In Your Garden, We’re Coming To Dinner and Undun came from the same Guess Who that produced These Eyes, No Time and American Woman. Meanwhile Blue Collar and Lookin’ Out For No. 1 complemented BTO’s best rockers Takin’ Care Of Business, Let It Ride and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.
“We always liked stuff that swings,” Cummings says. “Back in the ‘60s, Randy and I were always filling each other’s heads to new stuff. He’d call me up and say, ‘You gotta come over and hear such-and-such an album,’ and vice versa.”
With both Jukebox and the potential for a Jazzbox, Bachman and Cummings are enjoying a close friendship once more. They both have left the Guess Who and BTO and all the ensuing politics behind.
“The real problems between us from way back in 1970, that’s just old baggage now,” Cummings says. “You get older, you let all that baggage go. It’s very powerful now, especially on stage.”
“If we’re daring enough, we’d start to play a song and not tell the other what it is,” Bachman adds. “Inevitably I join in or he joins in, because we both have the same bible of learning — Winnipeg radio.
“We could pull out any song and just do it because we know them — and each other — so well.”
Separately, Bachman keeps busy with, among other things, his popular Saturday night Vinyl Tap show on CBC Radio One and co-writing for various projects. And by September, Cummings hopes to unveil Above The Ground, his first new solo studio album since 1990’s Plus Signs.
“It’s ended up being 19 songs and the first one in my career where I’ve written every song myself, produced the album, paid for it on my own, and so on,” Cummings says. “It couldn’t be any more of a solo project.”