Don Rendell/ Ian Carr : Phase III (1967) EMI Lansdowne

Selection: Crazy Jane ( Carr  )


The selection Crazy Jane narrowly defeated the more mainstream track On! due to the latter’s lengthy drum solo – a feature of many  ’60s recordings, an outbreak of instrumental democracy and fair play, everyone gets to solo, why not the drums?  I prefer the drummer to be “solo-ing” throughout, a virtuoso rather than beat-keeper, but I’m wary, some drum-fans might want to beat some different sense into me.

Artists

Don Rendell  (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet) Ian Carr (Trumpet, Flugelhorn) Michael Garrick (Piano) Dave Green  (Bass) Trevor Tomkin (Drums) recorded Lansdowne Studios, London, February 23, 1967, recording engineer Adrian Kerridge.

Music

British jazz in the ’50s and ’60s  never really became  mainstream, eclipsed by transatlantic  “popular music singers” and  groups of young men strumming electric guitars. Even at jazz’s height, original American jazz ruled the charts, not British jazz.  Even the local product  fissured between reproduced Dixieland clarinet and striped waistcoat “Trad’ Jazz” and the Modernist. Older jazz fans clung on to their Charlie Parker collections, their big band swing albums, some perhaps a few even their Blue Notes. British modern jazz record titles sold in just a few thousands, hence their premium today at auction.

British jazz musicians main source of income was not from record sales, or club performance, but laying down background music for film and TV – that was over 50% of Lansdowne Studios main business.  However we have reason to be grateful that Denis Preston and others struggled against the tide of popular music to bring us good music, that was not especially popular.

The pick of EMI Lansdowne jazz out put was reviewed a few years back at LJC  with the Lansdowne sampler album, under the modest title The British Jazz Explosion (1966-9)  A reminder with a selection from the predecessor  Rendell Carr album Dusk Fire,  the track Tan Samfu (Rendell), if you want to make the connection and read the direction of travel:


Rendell/ Carr Quintet shows how far British jazz in the second half of the ’60s had taken new directions. Not a jazz songbook standard in sight, moving away from the usual jazz conventions of AABA structure, heads and solos, rhythm section down in the engine room, improvised virtuosity of the soloists. The writing is more structured,  a pictorial composition, storytelling, replete with literary allusions. One title in French: “Les Nieges d’Antan“, literary, not Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?   Garrick’s title Black Marigolds (marigolds are orange, no?) is a steer towards Indian Classical fusion, cerebral references. This is jazz charting its own course, rather than following that set out before.

Phase III doesn’t so much swing as target the regions “above the belt”. This may well be because recruits to the British jazz scene were more likely graduating from Art College than schooled in military marching bands, but that would be just a limey guess.

Cook and Morton put their finger on Ian Carr’s Miles-like touches on trumpet: “soft harmonic slurs, dramatic stabs and out of tempo fills”, but also the parting of the ways with the other side of the Atlantic, with his  “intense, highly literate vision”.

The force is strong with collectors of British jazz. Below, some of Don Rendell’s early EP’s and 10″ albums on Tempo and other Decca labels. Everyone  dresses up in suit and tie for record covers. Rendell even sports braces to hold up his trousers. The Mods were yet to come.

Rendell offers a bridge between the American old and the British new,  a polished jazz improviser who moves into the counterpart, opposite to Ian Carr, in a search for a very different New Land. Playing Phase III to a couple of friends, neither especially jazz aficionados, more prog-rock and experimental weird,   one commented perceptively, “it sounds somehow British, though I can’t say exactly why, but it does“.  The Rendell Carr Quintet earned themselves a very special place of affection  in the canon of British jazz: creative, original and somehow very British.

Rendell/ Carr eventually  went separate ways, and Michael Garrick’s future took an altogether different direction:

 

Vinyl: SCX 6214

EMI Columbia “Magic Notes” Lansdowne Series, strong EMI pressing.

Collector’s Corner

Style notes:

I keep looking at that cover. Ian Carr anticipates the hipster beard and the whole quintet are cast as intense, serious artists. The year Phase III was recorded I was following the herd, shoulder length hair and droopy moustache: suits and ties were strictly  for job interviews. Meanwhile, Liberty were getting into their second year of Blue Note ownership, and I wasn’t there either.  This music was my era, but not my metier, which was spent queueing up at the Marquee Club rather than Ronnie Scotts, watching  Cream, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, musically in an altogether different place, then, soon after, took a wrong turn, to Fusion.

To collectors for whom this reclaims their youth, I salute you, I’m only now just catching up. However catching is at a price. Popsike Top 25 auctions  for Phase III in the range  £185-£475. Ouch!

If the government Department of Media, Culture and Sport wants to do something useful (for a change),  they could announce a Help-To-Buy-Vinyl mortgage assistance scheme for would-be British jazz collectors, perhaps Shared Ownership of Dusk Fire or Shades of Blue.

I’ve taken to Rendell/Carr, I’m still a bit at a loss where to go British next. Backwards perhaps seems promising, reversing away from the looming ’70s fusion chasm , I’ve already been down there. Or on the other hand, I may just stay in Europe, figuratively. My wallet needs time to recover from this British treasure-trove outing.

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12 thoughts on “Don Rendell/ Ian Carr : Phase III (1967) EMI Lansdowne

  1. I was fortunate enough to get to know Don Rendell, Mike Garrick and Neil Ardley when I compiled British jazz reissues some years ago. I worked with Gilles Peterson in putting together two volumes of British jazz called ‘Impressed’ and I briefly oversaw a reissue sub-label called ‘Impressed Re-pressed’ that issued Mike Garrick, Amancio D’Silva, Neil Ardley, Mike Taylor and others. Sadly, all the albums I flagged to be part of a proper coherent reissue series were licensed off to various other labels as Universal lost interest… long story. At least most of them got heard again via BGO and Vocalion. In fact, I found the master tapes to Joe Harriott/Amancio D’Silva’s ‘Hum Dono’ album. They were considered lost for many years. Suffice to say, in the end Stefano D’Silva licensed Hum Dono to Dutton/Vocalian. They butchered the LP artwork on the LP version. Shocking disregard for the artwork. But the music is being heard gain, so that’s the main thing. Keep your eyes and ears open for more potential British jazz news soon….!

    • What an exciting prospect! I lack confidence in corporate management, it needs an individual with total belief in themselves and a healthy disregard for “conventional wisdom”™. Your experiences are unique, write more.

  2. I too immediately thought of Dick Morrissey. Storm Warning is a great, but there is something really wrong with the way the piano is miked on that LP. Here and Now and Sounding Good and Its Morrissey Man! both demonstrate what a great tenor player Morrissey was, even if they are not particularly innovative. I agree Ronnie Ross- Cleopatra’s Needle is a great one too.

  3. I’d echo some of Cliff’s suggestions. Neil Ardley’s GREEK VARIATIONS is a fine record (or CD, in my case) — a little like a smaller scale Gil Evans. Graham Collier’s DEEP DARK BLUE CENTRE is very good but in my opinion noodles a little and feels as if it ‘sags’. The later DOWN ANOTHER ROAD isn’t fusion but is tending in that direction — more ‘rockish’ and it has the to my ears dreaded jazz piccolo…

    Howard Riley’s THE DAY WILL COME is excellent – almost a ‘pre-free’ record, intensely lyrical with something indefinably British about it and very much of its time (in a good way).

    Stan Tracey, of course, who I’ve mentioned before in this connection (WITH LOVE FROM JAZZ and UNDER MILK WOOD, naturally). Mike Taylor TRIO is excellent; PENDULUM I seem to recall was weaker but I can’t confirm this because my CD has gone astray.

    • Yeah, those Tracey LPs on Lansdowne are awesome. I haven’t gone a whole lot further other than some (strong) sideman appearances.

  4. “Crazy Jane” is such an outstanding tune. I love that stumbling Monk-ish feel.

    You shouldn’t be so hard on Fusion. My guess is that it led you from Cream et al to precisely where you are now.

  5. Lovely to see you follow up Live with another Rendell/Carr classic. I’m surprised you chose Crazy Jane as the ripped sample. For me Black Marigolds was always the stand-up track on this LP. Still, that leaves me the scope to include that tune when I get round to writing about my copy.

    As for what British Jazz to try next, Clifford has made some excellent suggestions to which I’ll add a couple more: the two Mike Taylor records (if you have very deep pockets or are very lucky), Dick Morrisey’s Storm Warning, Ronnie Ross’ Cleopatra’s Needle, Mike Westbrook’s Love Songs and, since you’ve touched on the subject briefly, there are several fine Michael Garrick records: notably October Woman, Black Marigolds (there it is again) and The Heart is a Lotus.

    • I need to give the Morriseys another try.

      Those Mike Taylors are great although insanely expensive in their original format! Glad to have the CDs, anyway… that’s one place where the CD market has done well, as there are a ton of great, classic British jazz albums on disc nowadays.

  6. Those Rendell/Carr LPs are superb, as are Garrick’s and Neil Ardley’s. However, all of them fetch a pretty high price and I’ve made do with CDs for the most part.

    The earlier works of John Surman, Alan Skidmore, Mike Westbrook, Graham Collier, and Howard Riley may be of interest (certainly more affordable in comparison if one is after original LPs). I’d also recommend anything on the CBS Realm jazz series — in addition to reissuing Savoy LPs for the UK market they also introduced figures like Riley, Tony Oxley, Ray Russell and Frank Ricotti to the world.

  7. As if to prove that good things can still be had from Ebay, my copy of this LP (near mint at that) came in a job lot of about 50 records, won for the princely sum of £4.17 + postage, just over 2 years ago.

    Even more remarkably, this LP was actually fully visible in the (admittedly fuzzy) photographs of the listing.

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