Don Rendell Roarin’ (1961) Jazzland (UK)


Selection 1: You Loomed Out Of Loch Ness (Rendell)

Selection2: Manumission (Burch)

Bonus Selection: Blue Monk (Monk)

Artists Great-Britain-120-animated-flag-gifs Graham Bond (as) Tony Archer (b) Phil Kinorra (d) John Burch (p)  Don Rendell (ts)  Recorded at Star Sound Studios, London, June 17 and August 29, 1961, engineer Ed Michel. .

Year: 1961

19611961 Great Britain applies for membership of the EEC, the first in a long chain of events which led up to the British War of Independence, 2015, following the election of the UK Independence Party and subsequent invasion of the breakaway state of New Britain by European Union Forces.

Music An incredibly rare album released by British saxophone great Don Rendell, a tour-de-force of hard bop that stands up against many recordings in the US at the time. Or so deluded Brits like to think – you decide for yourself.

Rendell’s  name and reputation is known only to a few aficionados of British jazz, and the quintet introduces on alto the great British blues/r&b pioneer Graham Bond. Long a collector’s item, mint copies of this original 1961 Jazzland records LP “Roarin'” spring upwards of 100 New Groats, (£ng’s, the currency of independent New Britain following the collapse of the Pound in the wake of the Great Euro Crash of 2014)

This copy is slightly less than mint, a few tics here and there, more “VG positive”. I must emphasise I know very little about British Jazz, or indeed anything else. However as most people know absolutely nothing, my very little is quite a lot. I hand  the microphone over to MC from the British Ace Records, I believe an occasional visitor to LJC, Dean, over to you:

DEAN R says: “Still a vital sound on the saxophone well in his seventies, Don Rendell was one of the pioneers of British modern jazz in the immediate post war years. The music made by these players (and those that they inspired) influenced the vibrant UK jazz scene of the 50s and 60s through to the 70s. Lauded as Britain’s finest saxophonist, (something Tubby Hayes fans might want to discuss, Dean – LJC)

“Roarin'” is by far the most far-reaching of Rendell’s early releases. In early 1961, he had put together a new Quintet and had started to work club dates. The band included Phil Kinorra and Tony Archer on drums and bass, both youngsters, but already with the experience of playing alongside Jackie McLean and Freddie Redd in the London production of the play The Connection.

Pianist John Burch was a long-time associate who provided a stability at the centre of the group. The wild card was the 23-year-old alto player Graham Bond, who is described as having a contrasting melodic approach to the saxophone rather than harmonic one of Don Rendell.

Later Bond moved to the organ and formed the Graham Bond Organisation, from which both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker emerged, the cream of British Rock. The band were signed to record for the Riverside subsidiary, Jazzland, by their European distributor, Interdisc. This meant they’d got a US release, a rare event for a UK combo.

The young American, Ed Michel, (who made his name in the late 60s and early 70s as Impulse Records’ in-house producer of Archie Shepp, Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane and Keith Jarrett sessions) was at the desk.

“Roarin'” is hard bop, seven tracks long; four of which are originals and three are covers. Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk and Miles Davis’ So What, are deceptive pieces that require improvisational skill to navigate their beautiful tunes. Duke Pearson’s Jeanine was already on its way to becoming a jazz standard, having appeared in versions by Cannonball Adderley on Riverside and Donald Byrd on Blue Note.

The original tunes kick off with Bond’s Bring Back The Burch, an interesting rhythmic piece reminiscent of Bobby Timmons’ This Here. John Burch’s Manumission is a long piece which sees latinesque rhythms and some wild alto play from Bond and a commanding tenor solo from Rendell. Burch also wrote The Haunt, while Rendell’s composition You Loomed Out Of Loch Ness rounds things off with some stunning ensemble work from the band

The album received a favourable review in the US jazz bible Downbeat, and was one of the first steps towards a limited recognition of UK jazz in the US”

Vinyl: JLP 51 Jazzland (UK)

Pressing by Decca, New Jersey Malden Matrix JLP51-1L, indicating Decca engineer George Bettyes (L)  rather than Decca’s usual jazz man Ron Mason (B).

A very sharp tight mastering job, George, nice one, and I hesitate to say it for fear of offending our friends across the pond, a better sounding job than found on the couple of my US Jazzland pressings.

Riverside (of which Jazzland is a sub-label) were pressed in the UK by Decca up to 1961 and by Philips thereafter until the demise of the label after Bill Grauer’s death in 1963. Both the Decca and Philips pressings I find preferable to US Riverside, another of those cases where primary source being original or copy tape is not indicative of final quality.

Old English proverb:There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Two slips are immediately noticeable – tracks 2 and 4 The Haunt and Loch Ness are transposed on the label compared with the liner notes, and the Alto player is identified as one Graham Band. Further, the parentheses around the name and line up on the front cover are redundant, and the list should strictly link the last two artists names with an “and” or ampersand not a coma, and finish with a full stop.

I thought the Brits were sticklers for grammar, sheesh. JLP51-rendell-roarin-labels-1800px jlp51-don-rendell-roarin'-rearcover-1800

Collector’s Corner ENVY-RATING-2-200pxSource: New arrivals in a record store in one of the more leafy suburbs of South London, the proprietor of which kindly drew my attention to some more interesting records that had just come in. Not being a fan of British jazz beyond Tubby Hayes, my initial reaction to the eye-watering price ticket was no, not for me, but out of curiosity, I gave it a spin on the deck. More than pleasantly surprised, I quickly concluded, well may be there is something here for me after all.

LJC-bowler-hat-umberella-fastshow14Returning home,  the sound on the primarily British hi-fi system  lived up to expectations. Decca New Malden, yeah! It makes one jolly proud, well, slightly proud to be British. Or I would be if I was.  Conclusion: British Jazz is m o d e r a t e l y  good, considering it’s not American. G&T anyone? Now about this Tommy Whittle chap…

6 thoughts on “Don Rendell Roarin’ (1961) Jazzland (UK)

  1. Beyond the “two slips that are immediately noticeable”, one thing is for sure: “Artists” is clearly “Blue Monk”, and “Blue Monk” must be “somethin’ else” (not by Miles).

  2. Oh come come, only some moderately good records in British jazz? What about the very hard to find (on vinyl anyway) Baptised Traveler on CBS led by drummer Tony Oxley with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Kenny Wheeler. A very fine record which is up there with the very best.
    Similarly, Extrapolation by John McLaughlin with great support again from Tony Oxley and a superb John Surman. This is on Polydor but I wonder if the vinyl will beat the CD?
    These records are not derivative and that’s why they are so good.

    • you’re right, but I didn’t mean all, of course. I was referring to 50’s and early 60’s recordings when European musicians had no personal style yet.
      European jazz became prominent and original after Free Jazz but not only in free form.

  3. I left my wallet in El Segundo…no, wait, I left this record in a record store in Ithaca, NY. And I’m still biting myself in the butt. Even when I don’t really much enjoy the music.

  4. there are several european 50’s and 60’s recordings which are very high on the market, mainly from England, France and Italy. the music is usually derived from American Jazz and, as Andrew says, moderately good, ie well played but unoriginal.
    More interesting if American visitors meet European musicians.

  5. Ridiculously hard to find LP in any pressing. I tried to buy a VG+ copy from a fellow collector years ago and walked away empty handed. Finally, this year I was able to snag a first pressing US stereo copy, advertised as only VG, for around $20. I didn’t care and took a chance and was pleasantly surprised the LP was mostly VG+ and quite enjoyable despite the intermittent popping and low-level surface noise. Oh, and eventhough the back cover was pasted on upside down it still is one of my cherised LPs in my collection. Thanks for posting!

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