Five Selections: your five-a-day portions of jazz, for a healthy listening diet. I provide a sample from an album, they provide a sample from an album, I figure if its good enough for them it’s good enough for me too.
Artists: various. It’s a sampler,
Late 1960’s, just as modern jazz in America was in retreat, shape-shifting into soul jazz, avant-torture, or moving to Yrup, British modern jazz was on the up and up, lifting Nelson’s spyglass to the eye and seeing no ships advancing: the blues boom, electric jazz-fusion, record company executives preoccupied finding the next group of moody young men with guitars, while Britain’s small jazz community saw a tiny jazz boom, talented professionals determined to ride out the storm and play real music, whatever the weather.
EMI had a talent pool of British jazz: Don Rendell, Ian Carr, Stan Tracey, Joe Harriott, ( sadly noTubby Hayes here, signed to rival label Philips Fontana ) and a taste for the Big Band that offered many musicians lucrative employment in troubled times. And it’s all here on just one album: Jazz Explosion. Some pleasant surprises along the way, though the “crossover” Indo-jazz fusion I have passed over. The flirtation with Indo-jazz, a novelty at the time, seems not to have worn well over the years and Guy Warren of Ghana’s Afro-jazz deserves a better sample that offered.
So LJC samples from the sampler the best selections from among the most desirable records in existence for the British Jazz collector. I don’t have any of them, apart from Jazz Suite, but because its my blog I can do anything I like, I’m going to pretend I do have them, and play Fantasy Record Collector.
British Jazz: Hit it.
Portion 1: Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet – Dusk Fire – Columbia SX 6064 (1966)
Artists: Dave Green (bass) Trevor Tomkins (drums) Michael Garrick (piano) Don Rendell (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet) Ian Carr (trumpet, flugelhorn) Recorded London March 16-17 1966, recording engineer Adrian Kerridge
The aristocracy of 60’s British jazz, including Trevor Tomkins on drums, who I had the pleasure of hearing with the Simon Spillett Quartet just before Christmas.. I had chased this record a few times but it tends to run to three or more multiples of my house limit.
Selection: Tan Samfu (Rendell)
Portion 2: Joe Harriott / Amancio d’Silva – Hum Dono – Columbia – SCX 6354 (1969)
Artists: Joe Harriott (alto saxophone) Dave Green (bass) Ian Carr (flugelhorn) Amancio D’Silva (guitar) Bryan Spring (drums) engineers Adrian Kerridge and Mike Weighell ( for Hum Dono) at Lansdowne Studios, Holland Park, London W11.
Selection: Hum Dono (D’Silva)
The killer track which monsters on the Jazz DJ scene, with its modal hypnotic rhythm guitar beat and spare key changes, supporting a quirky loose tune punctuated by delicious Harriott alto runs. The full album itself often goes to £1,000 (tax-deductible). A showcase for Joe Harriott, one of our greatest saxophonists: Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriott, Don Rendell….
Portion 3: Stan Tracey – Jazz Suite – Columbia 33SX 1774 / SCX 3589
Artists: Jeff Clyne (bass) Jack Dougan (drums) Stan Tracey (piano) Bobby Wellins (tenor saxophone) Recorded in London at Lansdowne Studios May 8, 1965, engineer Adrian Kerridge
Selection: Cockle Row (Tracey)
A raunchy cheeky romping tune with Bobby Wellins take on Paul Gonsalves and the previous generation big-toned tenors.
Portion 4: Stan Tracey Big Brass – We Love You Madly
Artists: Stan Tracey (piano) Tony Coe (tenor saxophone) Acker Bilk (clarinet) Ian Carr (flugelhorn) Joe Harriott (alto saxophone) Lennie Bush (bass) Barry Morgan (drums) Bobby Lambe, Chris Pyne, Chris Smith, Don Lusher, Keith Christie (trombones) Derek Watkins, Eddie Blair, Kenny Baker, Les Condon, Paul Tongay (trumpets) Adrian Kerridge (engineer)
Big Band that puts me in mind of Oliver Nelson’s Main Stem, the sort of Ellingtonia that wins you over with its sheer energy and swing.
Selection: Lay By (Ellington)
What with the recent Sun Ra’s Chicago period, now British Bursting Big Band, Ellington looks ripe for a little more (selective) exposure. Connoisseurs of British jazz will notice the first presence of the popular Acker Bilk at LJC. I promise no Stranger on The Shore…
Portion 5: The Mike Taylor Trio – Trio
Artists: Jack Bruce, Ron Rubin (bass) Jon Hiseman (drums) Mike Taylor (piano) recording engineer Dave Heelis
This track was the biggest surprise. I admit I did not know of Mike Taylor Trio, though I certainly knew musicians Jon Hiseman (who I was fortunate to see play live with Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia a few years back, still touring as Colisseum ) and the recently departed Jack Bruce. A lovely piece moody melodic which warrants closer attention. A decade ago described by The Guardian’s John Fordham as follows
“state-of-the-art British piano-trio music from the 1960s that was never recognised for its merits at the time…. Taylor is a highly rhythmic pianist whose dense chord clusters often travel in tandem with Hiseman’s sensitive and flexible percussion (and) Bruce’s emphatically voluble bass. A unique and very affecting set.”
I gather Taylor died by his own hand at the age of only 31, more promise unfulfilled.
It is axiomatic among record collectors that, putting to one side reissues, repressings, European and Japanese editions and modern super-audiophile productions, the one type of record which has no collector interest or value is “the Sampler”. File under V for “various artists” or valueless.
However as with all good rules there is always the occasional exception that proves the rule good. The 1969 EMI Lansdowne sampler collected together on vintage vinyl a mouth-watering set of picks from the most desirable and expensive records known to collectors of British jazz. Hum Dono, Dusk Fire, Stan Tracey’s Jazz Suite, Guy Warren from Ghana, go find affordable originals in excellent condition if you can. This sampler puts the cream of British jazz of the later ’60s on your plate, at a pocket-money price: Sixteen shillings! (Well, a little bit more than that, inflation adjusted)
The “Columbia” label here is the EMI-licensed “Magic Notes” Columbia, not to be confused with actual real Columbia. That licensing agreement spawned all manner of shenanigans on the part of US Columbia to get around its own deal, releasing Columbia recordings through Philip’s Fontana and later setting up CBS for European distribution.
I figured as I was not in the market for original top copy of these records any time soon, the sampler seemed a good way to get a foot in the door – pressed at the time and to the quality of the original EMI Columbia Magic Notes originals, from the same plant, EMI Hayes Middlesex.
The other albums are more modest, usually “only” a few hundred pounds, but the three above gems are up there in high-end Blue Note territory. Who’d have thought it. British Jazz.
Not that it is on the Jazz Explosion sampler, but for the sake of completeness, a glimpse of what is probably the most expensive British jazz record : Don Rendell and Ian Carr’s Shades of Blue:
LJC reader Peter T contributed this marvellous piece of ’60s memorabilia, thank you. I’ve applied for my ticket already but strangely, the telephone number seems to be disconnected.