British jazz seems to have low visibility to those steeped in the US tradition, so some of these artists may be unfamiliar to LJC readers. I feel reasonably well versed in British jazz in the American tradition – Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriott, Dizzy Reece, Shake Keane and others, but less so with the Don Rendell Ian Carr Quintet, who represent a peculiarly British strain of jazz which emerged in the second half of the ’60s.
As much for my own benefit, here is a quick flyover, inadequate comparisons on my part, merely what first came to mind. Don Rendell, tenor and smaller saxes, flute and clarinet: a cross between Lester Young and John Coltrane with a touch of Archie Shepp (Rendell d. 2015 age 89) ; Ian Carr, trumpet and flugelhorn: a cross between Clifford Brown and Miles Davis (Carr d. 2009 age 75); Michael Garrick, composer and pianist, Duke Ellington meets St Paul’s Cathedral, liked to combine music with poetry readings (Garrick d. 2011 age 78). Dave Green is still playing bass, age 75. Trevor Tomkins is also very much alive and kicking, also age 75, last seen by me a few months back at East Croydon’s The Oval venue, behind the drums of the very excellent Simon Spillett Quartet.
Technically, a pavanne is slow processional dance.The selection Pavanne here is a tango-themed reading from a darker place. It is by no means easy to pidgeon-hole this. Carr’s daring lower register trumpet theatrics are the highlight, and the whole performance has a haunting atmospheric quality that makes this group so original and exciting, staking a claim to Jazz Independence Day.
Rendell/ Carr’s works are not a British extension of US post-bop or modal, but full of fresh instrumental rethinking, drawing on eclectic world influences of Balkan, Indian, African and Middle Eastern music, composed and arranged passages of orchestral narrative, combined with free passages and quirky solos.
Rendell often favours clarinet and soprano sax, without any retro Sidney Bechet vibrato or dixieland stylistics, more classical in rendition. Carr like to shift to flugelhorn, lending variety of tone, and Garrick’s studied classical forms add a different flavour to the mix, not a rhythm section. The whole piece has a conceptual, intellectual quality not often found in more viscerally-driven rhythmic jazz. It has aged well compared to the contemporary jazz fusion that followed it, confirmed by its collector value.
Recorded “live” in 1969 at London’s Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park, before an invited audience of jazz cognoscenti. The improvisations on “Live” feel extended in length, as often happens in live performance compared with stopwatch studio discipline. It is British jazz, from Britain’s premier jazz group of the time (possibly all time), no longer jazz trying to break into the US market, but stylistically confident original voices and compositions, a mixed heritage of jazz roots, classical sensibility, and progressive direction. (by londonjazzcollector.wordpress.co)
Recorded live at the Lansdowne Studios, Holland Park, London, March 18, 1968
Ian Carr (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Michael Garrick (piano)
Dave Green (bass)
Don Rendell (saxophone, flute, clarinet)
Trevor Tomkins (drums)
01. On Track (Garrick) 8.18
02. Vignette (Rendell) 4.58
03. Pavanne (Carr/Tomkins) 9.12
04. Nimjam (Hedley) 3.57
05. Voices (Garrick) 13.34
06. You’ve Said It (Carr/Rendell) 8.37