Lydia Pense - vocals, percussion; Larry Field - lead guitar; Raul Matute - Hammond organ, piano; Danny Hull - tenor saxophone; Jerry Jonutz - baritone, alto and tenor saxophones; Larry Jonutz - trumpet; David Padron - trumpet; Rod Ellicott - bass; Frank Davis - drums
The concept was pretty simple: take the horn-driven sound of bands like Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears and Tower of Power, and enhance it with a hot rhythm section and a female vocalist who could wail. On paper, it reads like a blueprint for massive success, yet unfortunately Cold Blood's main achievement might be the fact that they were among the most underrated and unappreciated bands in modern music.
Spearheaded by the sassy, 4'9" blues belter Lydia Pense, and consisting of a stellar cast of musicians capable of sliding easily through a myriad musical styles including rock, funk, jazz, blues and Latin, Cold Blood emerged from the San Francisco scene in 1969, when they debuted at Bill Graham's Fillmore West. Originally on Graham's own San Francisco Records label, the band eventually signed with ABC Records and then later with Warner Brothers Records, where they recorded their brilliant Thriller album.
Although they were capable of writing and recording radio hits, the musicians of Cold Blues excelled best when trying to tackle intricate jazz and blues arrangements that featured the amazing horn section of Danny Hull, Jerry and Larry Jonutz and David Padron. A good example is the jazzy "Funky On My Back," written about the ills of drug addiction - and a timely theme for San Francisco in 1971. In addition, the group had a penchant for updating old blues numbers; their frantic version of the Willie Dixon classic, "I Just Wanna To Make Love To You," became a staple of the band's concert repertoire for many years.
Cold Blood would remain active through the late 1970s, but eventually disbanded in the early 1980s when Pense married and decided to focus on raising a family. Several of the original members, including Pense, regrouped for a few festival appearances in the mid-1990s, however, and the band eventually returned to a semi-regular schedule of recording and touring in 2002.
Cold Blood was always overshadowed by bands like Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears, and their sometimes over-the-top show antics probably kept them from a more widespread fan base. Still, if you love funk and horns and a great female vocalist, this show is for you.