Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Rendell-Carr: 'the greatest force in jazz this country has ever known'

The 1960s wasn't only a time of amazing development in British rock music, but British jazz too. As the decade progressed, composers, bandleaders and musicians such as Mike Taylor, Joe Harriott, Michael Garrick, Stan Tracey, Mike Westbrook and John Surman recorded masterpieces that would have been unthinkable at the dawn of the decade. Unfortunately, it was in the face of indifference both from record companies and the public, who were fixated on American jazz. Compared to the explosion in pop releases, a tiny number of homegrown jazz albums were issued at the time - I would estimate that a connoisseur's collection would only number about 100 albums. Nonetheless, then as now, barely anyone listens to British jazz, and several of the greatest albums in the genre have still never made it to CD.

One of the best-regarded bands of the decade was co-led by Don Rendell and the late Ian Carr (who later formed Nucleus), but surprisingly little hard info about them is available online. I therefore thought I'd reproduce here the fullest overview of their work I've ever encountered. It's by P. John Sullivan and originally appeared in the June 1968 issue of Jazz Journal, so pre-dates the release of Live and the recording of Change Is. Nonetheless, it gives a fascinating insight into their background, intentions and work.

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