The British Jazz Explosion (1966-9) EMI Lansdowne


Jazz-Explosion-frontcover-1800-LJC

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,

Music

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)

Rendell-dusk-fire-800

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)

Hum-Dono-cover

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)

 

LJC-HipHop-DJ-siThe 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

stantracey-jazzsuite-milkwood-cover-800

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

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

Mike-Taylor-Trio

 Artists: Jack Bruce, Ron Rubin (bass)  Jon Hiseman (drums)  Mike Taylor  (piano) recording engineer Dave Heelis

Selection: Abena

 

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.

Vinyl

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.

Jazz-Explosion-labelsr-1800-LJC

Jazz-Explosion-backcover-1800-LJC

Collectors Corner

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.

Here’s what sort of price-company some of these albums keep:
Hum Dono Popsike top 5

Mike Taylor Tio Popsike
Dusk Fire Popsike

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.

Postscript

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:

Shades of Blue Popsike

 

Postscript:

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.

jazz-explosion-invite

24 thoughts on “The British Jazz Explosion (1966-9) EMI Lansdowne

  1. Seems very odd that Shades of Blue and Dusk Fire haven’t been re-issued on high quality vinyl – does anyone know why?

    • Yes, so odd, Hum Dono has, why havent these classic other titles been reissued…some arcane copyright issue I’m sure…?

  2. One of the more obscure facts about Dennis Preston’s Lansdowne Series is that some of them were issued on LP down under in the Australian World Record Club. For example, the Rendell/Carr/Neil Ardley ‘Greek Variations’ and Laurie Johnson’s ‘Synthesis’ (with Joe Harriott and Tubby Hayes in the sax line-up) turned up in this imprint. Not sure if any others did though. Australian World Record Club was an offshoot of the London WRC operation, based in suburban Melbourne I think.

    The pressings aren’t bad either – at least as good as the UK equivalents.

    • Yes Greek Variations was pressed for Australia only in a unique sleeve, very hard to find however, as was Swinging Macedonia by Dusko Goykovich New Zealand only World Record Club! One side of Greek was also re-done for a KPM release, identical to the album copy. The Laurie Johnson LP is so good, doesnt get the cred it deserves, the creme of UK jazz talent, it really stretches the genre, doesnt miss a beat. Joe Harriot Personal Portrait was pressed almost identically in Oz but not many other Lansdowne were to my knowledge? The Stan Tracy Under Milk Wood inspired album is also very very good, Hum Dono leaves me a bit cold, unlike Dusk Fire and Shades of Blue – I so hope they get a full, identical flipback-glory reissue! There surely cant have been more than a 1000 at most of Shades sold, so scarce, dds to its fine allure. They are two of the finest jazz releases ever, at any time, incredible and they deserve their price tag, Hum Dono is just plain rare, but too straight for me.
      Cheers from Oz

  3. It is a surprise and delight to discover that you’ve started 2015 with a couple of posts that have not looked at an individual set.
    Your comparative examination of A Night In Tunisia x5 was very good. However, to write about a sampler (and a British Jazz one, at that) is really adventurous.
    This time last year I was wondering if it would go beyond the Pale to write about a big band album on my own blog. I thought I would be reported to the Jazz Police if I did so, but my look at Johnny Griffin’s ‘Big Soul Band’ has been visited often.
    Although I enjoyed ‘Hum Dono’ I’m shocked to hear that it is big on the UK Jazz Dance scene (it may have been played on the radio a couple of times though). It’s OK- but a bit ‘worldly’ with that Spanish guitar- and is there a fair bit of vocalisation in the background or are my ears deceiving me? I’ll give it another listen on posting this though.
    The piano trio sound interesting- but a piano trio is a piano trio, unless it’s The Three Sounds- who seem unloved and unwelcome everywhere these days.
    As for ‘Under Milk Wood’, the music and the concept just don’t fit together. I don’t get how a suite of 2nd Division derivative 60’s Jazz tunes are linked to a remarkable Welsh poem and still venerated 60 years later. It doesn’t make the selection a bad track but it does defy belief when the poem is presented alongside the Jazz Suite.
    In any event, good for you LJC to post on this sampler. Keep up your amazing and challenging work and keep the Jazz Police guessing!

    • I love ‘Big Soul Band’, just as I love Cannonball’s ‘African Waltz’ of the same period. Hey, and there is Gil Evans, Mingus, you name them… ain’t nothing wrong with big bands!

    • Downwithit, I don’t think I have ever heard Under Milk Wood called “2nd division derivative 60s Jazz tunes” before — and I don’t for one moment accept the description. It’s a British jazz classic and Starless and Bible Black especially so.

      However, where I do agree is in the relatively loose relationship that exists between the music and the play (for it is of course a play rather than a poem). Tracey always said that the play inspired him; I’m not sure he ever claimed the music to be a commentary on the play, although it’s true that he rerecorded it with narration.

      Be that as it may, I have always felt that the record stands or falls on the quality of the music, and this is matchless.

      I remember seeing Stan talking in a documentary made some years before hiss death, and he gave an account of writing the UMW music which to me always rang somewhat truer — catching the night bus back home from Soho in the early hours of the morning after his regular nights at Ronnie Scott’s. I think that’s where the real atmosphere comes from — the brooding ballads, the Monkian dissonance… It’s a soundtrack to night-time London and the jazz life of the 60s working jazzman.

      • Thanks Alun, you are absolutely right. UMW was conceived by Dylan Tomas as a ‘play for voices’. I had the good fortune to attend a performance at a local arts festival last year and it was good to hear words and music together. I had my tuppence worth and expressed an opinion here:- http://downwithit.info/2014/06/21/stan-traceys-under-milk-wood-live-macclesfield-barnaby-big-weekend-22-june-2014/
        Giving the music a first listen on that occasion, I was disappointed. There is a mismatch between the text and the music that was attached to it. Although the music (1965) is more recent than the text (1953), I am clear about which of the two has, in my opinion, weathered the passage of time the better.
        Fair enough, Tracey’s ‘Starless and bible black’ is a wonderful tune- but if standing trial on my assertion, I would ask the defence to list other Jazz recordings from 1965 (see Wikipedia list of ‘Jazz albums 1975’), play Cockle Row to the jury and rest my case. I would probably wiggle a bit and say that of course when the defendant wrote 2nd Division he was showing his age and actually meant Championship (in Assocition Football terms)- but that is a wiggle. UMW has been on my list of recordings to buy for over a year but I’ve not done so yet- which suggests to me that I’m not that bothered.
        Sorry to play the iconoclast her- but matchless masterpieces of British Jazz (or any other non-contemporary recording) will be judged by modern listeners who will be measuring them against all that they have heard in their listening experience and not striving for an impossible to achieve historically situated hearing of the work solely within its context.
        I was aware of Tracey conceiving his Jazz Suite, UMW, on the night bus from the West End to Streatham. Perhaps it’s a shame that the album wasn’t called ‘Early Morning, Climbing Brixton Hill’. There is a particular danger in reading too much into the titles of musical pieces- a pressing review of a contemporary set is ringing the loudest of alarm bells for me.

        • Early Morning, Climbing Brixton Hill might indeed have been better…. But I suspect for once in his life Stan may have had his eye on commercial potential, and UMW’s greater 🙂

  4. just a small comment to clarify…. Hum Dono was recorded by Adrian Kerridge AND Mike Weighell.
    Regards
    Mike Weighell

    • Well said, Mike! You must have some interesting stories about the Lansdowne days… Perhaps we can encourage LJC to make space for a guest blog?

      Best wishes

    • Gulp, Mike, I am not worthy!
      Honest, I took the information on the engineering credits from Discogs, which is clearly wrong – track B2 Hum Dono is credited there to Adrian, yourself to three other tracks.

      http://www.discogs.com/Joe-Harriott-Amancio-DSilva-Quartet-Hum-Dono/release/2329137

      You were there, you know what happened. Happy to set the record straight. And if you want to tell the inside story of Denis Preston, Lansdowne, I’d be honoured to host a guest post.

      • Thanks for your comments LJC and alunsevern; I just had a brief burst of egoism!
        The jazz vibe at Lansdowne was truly brobdingnagian, all thanks to Dennis Preston. There is good info on Wikipedia and Discogs about Dennis. If you feel like a bout of research there is a musical story to discover regarding Rendell & Carr, Amancio D’Silva, Guy Warren and Joe Harriot and who played on whose albums.

  5. I can’t quite remember whether I still have this — I rather think I may have sold it. Overall I found the selection a bit underwhelming — and the best bits I have on other formats in their entirety. I can’t help feeling that the best of that British jazz scene stuff is worth having however you can find it (perfectly adequate in the CD reissues, I find), while much of the rest has become somewhat over-hyped by association with the DJ/jazz dance scene, and especially from Gilles Peterson’s tireless promotion.

    Mike Taylor’s TRIO is a fine record. Stan Tracey’s UNDER MILK WOOD is a classic, of course, and can usually be found for a few quid on Stan’s own Steam label. Joe Harriott’s own ABSTRACT and FREE FORM represent him more adequately than the track on this sampler, I feel. And Don Rendell/Ian Carr’s SHADES OF BLUE (the title track from the LP of that name) isn’t represented — and it is the most gorgeous, melancholy modal thing imaginable…

    Still, it’s a nice record — I especially like the sixteen shillings price pre-printed on the front. Those were the days, eh?

  6. I have a pristine Japanese white label promo pressing of “Dusk Fire” on the Philips label and it’s in stereo..sounds amazing and dead silent vinyl. I believe only a mono edition was made for the UK. I have all the other Rendell/Carr 5tet albums as UK issues save for “Shades of Blue” which, as noted above, is probably the priciest of them all!

    Do not have the Mike Taylor albums nor even the oop CD reissues! I do have Silva’s debut “Integration” and for my money it is twice as good as “Hum Dono”…does not get the hype but I think it’s by far the strongest musically of the two.

  7. I have a pristine Japanese pressing on Philips of “Dusk Fire”, and it’s in stereo! I believe only a mono edition was made for the UK issue.

      • Sorry wrong about that. I was thinking of Stan Tracey’s Jazz suite which was issued in stereo bu Columbia some years after the original mono issue.

  8. If you think Dusk Fire goes for big prices, take look at Popsike for Shades of Blue by the Carr/Rendell Quintet. And another one well out of my price bracket is Harold McNair’s Affectionate Fink on Island. There’s so much fantastic UK jazz that’s out of print on vinyl and hideously expensive to track down If only the record companies who own the rights would licence them to somebody who can do audiophile pressings…

  9. I found a copy of this LP on my recent trip to Belfast (the only Jazz record I could find) for the princely sum of £5. Now all I need is several thousands £’s more to complete the set!!! A great record especially the Mike Taylor Trio.

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