From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Cymande (Sah-mahn-day) were an eclectic band who released several albums throughout the early 1970s. The group was formed in 1971 in London, England by musicians from Guyana and Jamaica. The name Cymande is derived from a Calypso word for Dove, which symbolizes peace and love.
The group developed a subtle and complex, deep funk style influenced by calypso rhythms, jazz, African music, American soul and UK rock of the time. Cymande can now be seen as one of the most sophisticated of the funk acts that evolved in the early 1970s. By the mid-70s the band members were going their separate ways and the group was disbanded in 1974. It wasn't until 20 years later that they reaped any financial rewards, as their music became a popular source for samplers. Cymande's original albums are still widely sought-after by DJ's and funk aficionados. Perhaps the band's best known recording is the soulful dancefloor filler called "Bra", which was later sampled by the American hip-hop group De La Soul and used as a breakbeat record by the godfathers of hip-hop Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash.
Cymande was accidentally discovered by English producer John Schroeder in a Soho, London club where they were rehearsing. He was there to see a rock band but the gig had been cancelled, and he stumbled upon this unique collection of West Indian musicians. He soon signed the band and recorded their initial single "The Message." The single was released by Janus Records, a division of Chess Records. The track reached number 20 on the US R&B and Pop charts. This set the stage for Cymande's self titled release in 1972.
Cymande traveled to New York after the success of the first LP, and began a tour of the US with Al Green. They also shared a few bills with the latin funk ensemble Mandrill. They played a few important venues, including The Apollo, and played a gig on Soul Train.
The band released three LPs for Janus. However, their final album, "Promised Heights" which shows Cymande developing their distinctive chilled funk/jazz sound was not released in the USA where Cymande had achieved their initial success. Promised Heights included one of their most cherished tracks, "Brothers on the Slide," along with "The Recluse," the downtempo jazz/funk of "Changes," and the slow funk churner "Promised Heights." The tracks "Brothers on the Slide," and "Bra," also were staples of the new Rare Groove/Deep House scene which developed in London and New York night clubs during the eighties.
- Ray King - Vocals/Percussion
- Steve Scipio - Bass
- Derek Gibbs - Soprano/Alto
- Pablo Gonsales - Congas
- Joey Dee - Vocals/Percussion
- Peter Serreo - Tenor
- Sam Kelly - Drums
- Mike Rose - Alto/Flute/Bongos
- Patrick Patterson - Guitar
- 1973 - Cymande
- 1973 - Second Time Around
- 1974 - Promised Heights
- 2000 - The Soul Of Rasta
- 2004 - Renegades of Funk "Best Of Anthology"
- “Bra” is featured on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 1993 film Crooklyn. “Bra”, “Dove”, & “The Message” can be heard in his 2002 film 25th Hour.
- Bra is sampled by De La Soul in the song "Change in Speak," from 3 feet High and Rising.