Celebrating Jon Lord
Label: earMusic/Eagle Rock Entertainment
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Review Date: September 28, 2014
It was in 2006 when, once a year, a group of stellar musicians and stars of rock started meeting up in London for a night of live music. The main intent was to raise money for a charity called The Sunflower Jam.
At first the rumors about these sessions with Deep Purple, Robert Plant, Brian May and Alice Cooper were too good to be true, to the point that a few thought that they were nothing less than an urban legend.
"The Jam," as it soon started to be called, quickly became a cult night. A real must -- first for the artists themselves, free and happy to leave their commercial thoughts outside the venue and be able to enjoy playing music together with colleagues, friends and maybe even secret rivals, and for the audience, who often could simply not believe their eyes.
The Sunflower Jam started as an idea from Jacky Paice, who very often could count on the drumming of her husband, Ian. Who would turn down playing with him?
The first editions were mainly open to guests and music business professionals who would contribute to the charity. Later, "The Jam" became too good not to be available to the public.
It is in one of the earlier Sunflower Jams that Jon Lord played for the last time with his friends in Deep Purple. Fans witnessed Lord duetting on a peaceful "war of Hammonds" with Don Airey, who had replaced Lord in Deep Purple when he decided he had enough of a life spent on the road, and after a lifetime dedicated to rock and roll, Lord left to concentrate on his first love: classical music and the combination of rock elements in it.
Fast forward to 2014: "The Sunflower Jam" is a now a regular sold out event, with this fourth one taking place at the Royal Albert Hall.
Sadly, Lord passed away in 2012, a few weeks prior to the release of the just finished remake of what is universally known as the first ever meeting of classical music and rock: the Concerto For Group and Orchestra. The same composition that Purple played live in 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall.
Considering the amount of respect, friendship and love expressed by anybody who had worked, played or simply met Jon Lord, it is not a surprise that the 2014 Jam would be completely dedicated to his music. The night turned out to be a historical moment in rock music: A full orchestra, led by director Paul Mann, gave wonderful arrangements to this repertoire going back and forth through fifty years of music, performed by many old friends. It was truly an unforgettable night.
The Albert Hall sold out to the last seat.
For four hours Jon’s music was shining. Commotion, jokes, laughs and a lot of music came together by magic.
All the wonderful musicians who played at the "Celebrating Jon Lord" Sunflower Jam have left an indelible mark. The set culminated in a 45-minute finale by Deep Purple (the Purple Mk III songs played by Ian Paice with old friend, Glenn Hughes), who are eventually joined by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, Rick Wakeman of Yes fame, Steve Balsamo (who sang in the Jon Lord band and on his last studio album Concerto), members of The Temperance Movement, ex-members of Whitesnake, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody, and the "modfather," Paul Weller.
The concert was divided into two acts: “Jon Lord – The Composer,” which focused on his classical music, and “Jon Lord - The Rock Legend,” which focused on his remarkable and revolutionary rock sound. “Jon Lord – The Composer” is featured on the single disc version of Celebrating Jon Lord, while the “Jon Lord – The Rock Legend” segment is featured on the 2CD.
Ian Paice remembers the Celebrating Jon Lord night with vivid memory. Considering the time all the artists had to rehearse the music for the concert, (in Deep Purple’s case two hours the day before the show!), the resulting performance were nothing less than miraculous. A testament to the quality of the players and love for Jon and his works.
“It was like no concert I have ever played. Everyone in the Hall was there for a common purpose, to honor a wonderful man and a great musician. The Royal Albert Hall is a fairly large venue and can be intimidating. But that evening, it was more like a gathering of friends at their local, (if slightly oversized) pub than a regular show.
“I believe all the artists, the people in the audience and even the crew helping to make the show work, felt the difference that night. Everybody attending the show left the venue with an expression that clearly said "one day I will be able to say I was there."
Now everybody will be able to see why.
- Written by Randy Patterson
Celebrating Jon Lord