|Genres||Rock, folk rock, jazz|
|Labels||Blue Thumb, Columbia, ABC Records|
|Associated acts||Marianne Faithfull, Sweet Thursday, Johnny Almond's Music Machine, John Mayall, Alun Davies, Jon Mark|
|Members||Jon Mark, Johnny Almond|
In 1970 Jon Mark and Johnny Almond formed Mark-Almond (also occasionally referred to as The Mark-Almond Band). The melancholy tones of saxophonist Almond were an integral part of the group's sound, and Almond frequently played flute as well, including the bass flute. Characterized by a blend of blues and jazz riffs, latin beats, and a mellow rock aesthetic, and in contrast to the heavier guitar-driven rock of his contemporaries, composer and band leader Mark worked at producing warm and melodic works.
In 1963, Jon Mark, using his given name John Michael Burchell, and a former schoolmate, Alun Davies; singer-songwriter, folk guitarist and skiffle musician, (later of Cat Stevens' band), recorded as a duo, an album entitled Relax Your Mind, on Decca Records.
In 1968 Mark and Davies founded the short-lived band Sweet Thursday. The five-piece band had only one recording, the eponymous Sweet Thursday on Fontana Records. The band was composed of Jon Mark, Alun Davies, Nicky Hopkins, Harvey Burns, and Brian Odgers. However, the album was not promoted by their record label, and the bandmates never toured.
Johnny Almond, born John Albert Almond on 20 July 1946 in Enfield, Middlesex, previously played in Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and the Alan Price Set, as well as performing considerable session work in England.
In 1969 he had founded Johnny Almond's Music Machine and had recorded two solo records Patent Pending and Hollywood Blues. On Patent Pending Almond is accompanied by Geoff Condon, Jimmy Crawford, Steve Hammond, Roger Sutton and Johnny Wiggins. On Hollywood Blues he jams with Curtis Amy, Hadley Caliman, Joe Harris, Charles Kynard, Ray Neapolitan, Joe Pass, Earl Palmer and Vi Redd.
Mark-Almond's first two albums, Mark-Almond (1971) and Mark-Almond II (1972) were recorded for Bob Krasnow's Blue Thumb label, and were noted for their embossed envelope-style album covers. The first album, "The Ghetto" received many plaudits. It also contained "The City," which, at 10 minutes, 32 seconds is notable for its length.
The band's second album "One Way Sunday," garnered airplay for them in the United States on album-oriented rock stations in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970 and in Baltimore, MD in 1971 at WAYE, according to Program Director, Ty Ford. The group then recorded two albums for Columbia Records, Rising (1972) and the live album, Mark-Almond 73 (1973), by which time the group's members had grown to seven.
In October 1972, Mark was involved in an accident in Hawaii and lost most of his left-hand ring finger. Mark was quoted later in Melody Maker as "climbed like a native and fell like an Englishman". "What Am I Living For" from Mark-Almond 73 gained the group the most U.S. radio airplay they would get, but nevertheless they disbanded later that year.
Mark released a solo record for Columbia Song for a Friend in 1975. He and Almond reunited in 1975 and released To the Heart on ABC Records (which had acquired Blue Thumb) in 1976, which featured the drummer Billy Cobham. Other notable musicians, who have recorded or toured with Mark-Almond include drummer Dannie Richmond, violinist Greg Bloch, keyboardist Tommy Eyre and bassist Roger Sutton. Eyre and Sutton later teamed in Riff Raff. A&M Records signed the duo in 1978 and released Other Peoples Rooms, but the record did not sell as well as earlier releases. Mark-Almond disbanded again in the mid 1980s, after releasing two decent albums, Tuesday in New York' (1980) and a live offering The Last & Live (1981). In 1996 Mark-Almond reunited again for a CD release, Night Music, which featured keyboardist Mike Nock and others.
Mark moved to New Zealand in the mid 1980s, and released a number of successful solo Ambient music recordings on his White Cloud record label, as well as collaborating with other artists on traditional Celtic and folk recordings and producing other artists. A release of Tibetan Monk chants Mark recorded and produced with his wife Thelma Burchell won a Grammy Award in 2004.
Almond lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. He died on 18 November 2009 from cancer, aged 63. He occasionally surprised local bar owners, arriving with his sax to jam, some of which was recorded, including a rousing rendition of Stormy Monday.
- 1971: Mark-Almond (Blue Thumb BTS-27; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00105; latest CD reissue: Varese Sarabande [UPC: 030206730289])
- 1971: Mark-Almond II (Blue Thumb BTS-32; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00517)
- 1972: Rising (Columbia KC-31917; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00511)
- 1973: Mark-Almond 73 (Columbia KC-32486; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00514)
- 1973: The Best Of Mark-Almond (Blue Thumb BTS-50) - compilation
- 1976: To The Heart (ABC AB-945; CD reissue: One Way 22084)
- 1978: Other Peoples Rooms (Horizon/A&M SP-730; CD reissue: Universal/A&M [Japan]; latest CD reissue: Elemental Music [UPC: 8435395500897])
- 1980: Tuesday In New York (Line 6.24242; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00056)
- 1981: The Last & Live (Line 6.28538 [2LP]; CD reissue: Line LICD 9.00415)
- 1981: Best Of...Live (Pacific Arts PAC7-142) - compilation
- 1996: Nightmusic (White Cloud 11026 [UPC: 747313002627])
- Franco: Mark-Almond.
- Anderson, Murphy Magicat: Relax Your Mind With Jon and Alun
- Rolling Stone: "Random notes. A bad mishap for Jon Mark of Mark/Almond. In Hawaii on tour with Joe Cocker last Sunday, he fell out of a tree and lost the ring finger on his left Hand." 26 October 1972.
- John Halsey: Patto - the John Halsey Interview. (PDF; 306 kB)
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 243. CN 5585.
- Scott MacLeod: Long trek to Grammy win for Taupo couple. New Zealand Herald.
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed November 2009