Don Rendell Ian Carr: Shades of Blue (1964) EMI/Jazzman 2018


Selection: Shades of Blue (Neil Ardley)

. . .

Artists

Dave Green, bass; Trevor Tomkins, drums; Colin Purbrook, piano; Don Rendell, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ian Carr, trumpet, flugelhorn; recorded London, October 1 – 2, 1964

Music

All-Music sets the scene: “There are no user reviews for this album”. Carr and Rendell were Britain’s answer to Miles & Coltrane, with beautiful, introspective modal numbers of bursting originality. Sadly, no-one knew.

Shades of Blue was the first Lansdowne outing of the Rendell Carr Quintet, and is an interesting contrast to the increasingly idiosyncratic and complex later works. If those later ’60s albums were landmarks in truly British modern jazz, this first 1964 recording reflects more American influence: one track with an easy latin groove (Blue Mosque), another a late-night bluesy swinger (Latin Blue), then a classic triple-speed chase (Blue Doom), usually a winning formula, and this one has a secret up its sleeve. Lurking in the shadows of side two track three is the title track, Shades of Blue, written by Neil Ardley. An atmospheric  bitter-sweet ballad, you sense something special, magical unfolding, lovely, lyrical, enveloping. This track alone is worth the price of the whole collection.

Rendell delivers solid solos with an authoritative tenor voice, shades of Rollins and Zoot Sims , but it is when he switches to soprano that the music takes on a life of its own, laced with contrapuntal snake-charmer lines, rapid-fire ascending and descending arpeggios .  His straight horn contrasts with Carr’s sour rasping brass, lurking  in the bottom register. Colin Purbrook has a delicate, almost ethereal touch on piano, Trevor Tomkins is always on point with perfectly-judged textures and accents, Dave Green’s firm bass holds the ground.

A rare and beautiful record, lovingly reproduced, and harbinger of more exciting work to come.

With records, scarcity generally shouts louder than quality. The Shades of Blue album would struggle  to justify its scarcity premium (see Collector’s Corner below)  but scarcity is . . .  scarcity. There just are not many copies around, because the original pressing run was so small, I have read the figure of 500, and that is what happens when today, demand exceeds supply.

Vinyl

The cover says mono but the vinyl plays stereo, perfect reproduction Columbia “Magic Notes”  labels,  but most importantly, mastered from original tapes, at Abbey Road Studios, and decently pressed 180 gram virgin vinyl. In the absence of a time machine and unlimited funds, this is as good a reissue as it is possible to get of this legendary British jazz classic.

Audacity histograms shown during ripping reveal a near silent vinyl floor, with very wide dynamic range and crystal-clear separation between signals on left and right channels.   I have A:B compared my original copy of Live with the Jazzman reissue, and sonically there is very little to choose between them. The original is slightly drier, and stereo a little more centrally focussed, but I really struggled to find any sonic criticism of the Jazzman edition, it is an absolute joy to listen to.

Just a few quibbles. A faint tape pre-echo can be heard at the start of a couple of quiet  tracks, possibly a characteristic of the original mix, one would have to hear the original to know. I remember this being a common feature of some records at that time.

The cover is a facsimile of the original, but its plastic-coated paper and photographic processes signal modern manufacture.  It seems no -one can reproduce1960s  semi-matt paper and print finish (let alone ’50’s Blue Note laminated covers) . Anyone with any experience of digging crates can tell the decade of a record  cover simply from its look and feel.

Com’on guys…it must be possible. I read somewhere the Sawano Brothers in Tokyo had restored a 1950s printing machine in search of that elusive authentic look.  That’s the attitude! No limits!

 

Collector’s Corner

Until now, all you had was the Lansdowne original…

You want a definition of “rare”? Popsike.  This is, I believe, the most rare and expensive British Jazz record ever. May be two to three copies a year come to market, doesn’t look like more than twenty have ever been sold on Ebay (depending on how you write your search criteria). Factory Sample FFS £1500! This is Holy Grail territory.

Interestingly, a lot of the auction descriptions below mention mono, none stereo, so this was only a mono release. The original first pressing remains unique, much to the relief of its owners. It also explains why the Jazzman repro cover is declared to be “mono”, as per “the original cover”.

Or this …Shades Of Blue, LP, Album, Mono, RE, RM, Unofficial, 33SX 1733

Discogs comments: “I have checked with publisher of Rendell Carr, MCPS, estate of Ian Carr and Don Rendell, and Universal. No sign of a license deal so far. BOOTLEG copy, do not buy, copied from a CD, not licensed”

Market forces! Want something badly enough and someone else will come along and make it, even fake it, a CD  copied to vinyl.

This however is the licensed edition mastered from original tape, on proper vinyl. Limited Edition, only 1,000 copies of the 5-LP box set housing the Rendell Carr Lansdowne series,  jazz DJ person Gerald Short has  done the seeming impossible. Kudos!

My set copy is number 0045, which is a fairly low number  (UPDATE: though possibly not among first few off the stampers, according to sources familiar with such matters. No matter, however I reserve the right to sulk).

Never thought I’d be writing about ordinary modern vinyl reissues, but this reissue is anything but ordinary. It has taken over fifty years to get this beauty out into the light. And still another four albums in the set, which sadly for some, happily for Jazzman, sold out within 24 hours.

Perhaps Gerald will commission another pressing, but his philosophy of quantities is contrary: “One of the reasons for making them numbered and limited (referring to previous Jazzman titles) is to make sure people bought them. If people thought there was an unlimited pressing and they would be around for a while, they may procrastinate with the purchase. But if they’re numbered and limited – you have to buy now because when they’re gone they’re gone!  He seems to favour round numbers, like 1,000. Rendell Carr Quintet Lansdowne titles may be destined to remain rare for some time to come.

In conversation with a London Jazz-DJ, éminence grise Jean-Claude, I foolishly ventured the Jazzman set would pull the rug out from under those massively expensive originals. Quite the opposite, he retorted. It will give some collectors an even greater appetite to own the originals.  And he should know. At the time of writing, there are three Jazzman boxsets up for sale at Discogs,  two  from German sellers, at €450 – 500,  The new word to learn today is Arbitrage:   the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.

More Rendell Carr Quintet Lansdowne titles – review with selection –  the Lansdowne originals!:

Phase III  (posted27/4/17)

Live  (posted 27/3/17)

At some future date, Dusk Fire and the enigmatically-titled Change Is.

Any thoughts welcome, as always, the last word is yours.

LJC

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26 thoughts on “Don Rendell Ian Carr: Shades of Blue (1964) EMI/Jazzman 2018

  1. Thanks so much for opening this yank’s ears to the wonders of Don Rendell, and especially his very unique voice on soprano saxophone! Being late to the party, I was content to languish in digital wastelands in order to enjoy his music, until recently I found a quite underpriced copy of Don Rendell with the Joe Palin Trio – Live at the Avgarde Gallery Manchester! Recording quality is nothing too profound, but it’s nonetheless an absolutely wonderful listen, and Rendell’s soprano on his track “Euphrates” is quite stunning. My hat’s off to you for introducing me to his singular music!

  2. What a great track. Lovely piano harmonies and a haunting atmosphere. I’d love to hear other jazz similar to this if any readers can suggest any. I have a very extensive jazz vinyl collection and am familiar with Miles’ late 50’s period, Paul Desmond, Art Farmer, Bobby Wellins, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans and lots of other “cool” style artists of this period.
    There must be more I’ve missed…

    Any contributions would be very gratefully received

  3. Dear LJC,
    It is my first post here, but I have thank you so much for sharing your knowledge,
    Due to your wonderful blog, I discover wonderful music, and in particular this record.
    I was lucky enough to find this box yesterday in Paris (one of the only three available).
    What a box, what a music!! Wonderful,
    Thank you and thank you again

  4. Regarding laminated covers: titles from the Japanese “From The Original Master Tapes” mono series (ca 2012 / 2013) have really well-made facsimile laminated covers. Of course they look brand new and do not have the special sheen of old Blues Notes that have accumlated sixty years of fingerprint grease, layers of cigarette smoke and dust. Quite brilliant editions soundwise, too (as far as I can tell – I would not mind having that verified in battle on your hi-fi set against an original, snap one up, will you? ;-). But then one of the Japanese ones costs almost as much as the whole box set from Jazzman and I expect quite a bit of the manufacturing costs in Japan was due to the covers.

    • After a week of nailbiting I just got my shipping confirmation from them, too. So in case anyone has pre-ordered somewhere and not received anything yet I would not give up hope. Seems vendors take ahwile until stock is in the warehouse, in the system and then shipped out again. I guess the crazy prices may settle a bit soon, too, once every set has reached its destination.

  5. Copy #946 here – ordered from Jazzman direct, on the day it came out. A couple of hours after the order it had gone from the site. Nerve racking !

    That is correct about the pre-echo. Possibly an artefact of the Abbey Road process? All in all though, a splendid release all round.

  6. Sorry to shatter any illusions, but one’s box set number will bear zero relation to when the vinyl came of the presses, the first record pressed could just as easily be in box set number 1,000 as number 1. I’m also of the opinion that you want a copy pressed after a couple of hundred have gone through the presses and everything is up to speed and working optimally, not that you will ever know unless you are working in the pressing plant.

    For once I’ll disagree with Dean, and I definitely know how hard it is to sell 1,000 copies of anything, but these records crossover and have a wide worldwide appeal, they should absolutely be readily available rather than an instant rarity doubling or trebling in price whilst thousands of genuine Jazz lovers miss out because their chosen retailer was shorted on stock or they didn’t even know there was a reissue until after it was instantly sold out. I totally get the economics and have a good idea how much money Gerald has tied up in this project as well as the nightmare of dealing with Universal, but if the licensing deal allows it I’d beg Gerald to repress, when funds allow, the individual titles and publicise it to mess up the price gouging speculators and make real fans happy.

    Mark, I really hope you get a copy, you let so many of us know about the box, based on that I checked Jazzman, but it said sold out, (yeah I know that changed, but I took it as a statement of fact), I went with HMV and still have my fingers crossed my copy will ship some future Friday.

    • Sorry, that should have read Gerald, no insult intended, (FIFY – LJC) I’m a big fan of his work, even if my copy of the box never materialises.

      • Hey Dubmart, leave my illusions alone, in some cases illusions are all I have!

        I once worked in a print factory as a grunt, many decades ago, and everything worked around “batch production”. Think of baking loaves, on a tray. A batch of something would be manufactured, processed, or matched up with a batch of something else. Not to say the first batch of say 200 records pressed could not be boxed in say the last batch of boxes to be numbered, entirely possible, but randomly assigning records to boxes would be massively complex process.

        Sequential numbering is a real batch process. Pendulum received box 0036, I received box 0045, both immediately on release. Always dangerous to connect two dots, but it looks to me suspiciously like they are from the same batch? True this could be the last batch or first batch, or any other sequence. Anyone else want to weigh in on their box number, speak up! Anyway, a thousand pressing run is well within the wear and tear limits of first stampers, so it’s a bit of fun, not serious.

        I have both my fingers and toes crossed on behalf of all LJC readers. It makes walking a little awkward, but it is sincerely meant.

        • I think each records would be produced individually and then collated and boxed. The process would be entirely random and the position on the press would be completely unrelated to what ended up in the box.
          By the way Dubmart, I don’t disagree that it should be more readily available, but I reckon this would top out at something between 1200 and 1500 sales to satisfy everyone who wants one and is willing to pay £80, and figures like that make the repress – as you know – very uneconomic.
          I might be wrong in that, but after hearing the figures for vinyl on some of the biggest jazz records of the year – a year when jazz is flavour of the month – that’s where I’d place this.
          I did a rough calculation on cost against income, and even if every record was sold direct to consumer the profit against outlay is very tight for what is a hell of a lot of work.
          But if G wants to repress I’d happily buy a copy as I was a little slow on this.

          • Yes Dean, I’d done the calculations as well and wondered if laying so much out upfront might explain why it’s 1,000 pressed, it’s also worth pointing out what a very fair price point Gerald has placed these at, a complete contrast to many other labels who would have charged twice as much or more, something else to applaud him for.

            We both know how few copies most releases sell and Jazz is hardly a big seller, but I still think these titles transcend the Jazz market and could sell a lot more than 1,000, whether that’s 500, 1,000 or 2,000 none of us can say, but my instinct is another 1,000 would sell quickly, just read the non Jazz fora and see how many potential buyers missed getting a copy.

            Obviously neither of us know what conditions Universal are placing on Gerald or how ridiculous their licencing fees are, but I’d like another repress not only for everyone who’s missed out, but also to give Gerald a greater reward for his work.

            • I actually think I may be wrong and you may be right on numbers.
              However I suspect they are asking for a 25% royalty – there seems to be little flexibility on that at Universal – so the cost is extreme.
              Gerald pitched the price incredibly low for this quality of product, which I guess meant more people rushed to this.

  7. I’m caught up in the irony of having announced this in here, and still waiting to see if the set I ordered from Germany will ever arrive.

    • I feel your pain, Mark, but if you acted swiftly, have Paypalled Jazzman the relevant DM, and have an email acknowledgement of your order, with an order number, I would be optimistic.

      I’m guessing, because this is my first purchase from Gerald, but if someone manufactures limited numbered quantities with an objective of selling out, their stock/financial systems would likely be geared to that – once all boxes are committed and the respective cash cleared in the bank, the “Out of Stock” sign goes up and no more orders can be placed. I can’t imagine he would want the hassle of organising payment refunds to hopeful customers.

      If I were him, and I am not, I would despatch the UK sales immediately, simple regular postage, and only get around to overseas orders which may require unique postage/insurance arrangements last. Then add a week for international postage/customs systems to do their dastardly work..

      If I were him, and I am not, I would have pressed 5,000 not 1,000.

      And lastly, if I were him, and again I am not, I would have sent me a free review copy. Ha, wishful thinking!

      • Gerald is one of the nicest and most honest people I have dealt with in the business. One of the good ones.
        I’m guessing that he’s paid his royalties to a set amount of sales upfront, which has allowed him the luxury of being able to plan his cash flow in advance.
        Universal will be charging him the almost criminal figure of around 25%, and the cost of manufacture will be steep, so selling out is far more important in the equation than pressing lots of copies.
        It’s incredibly difficult to sell 5000 vinyl copies of anything, and whilst I think the market for this may be a little more than a 1000 it is probably not much more, and the enforced scarcity probably made it less likely that G would end up with stock sitting in his warehouse.

        • Thanks for the insight from a fellow professional, Dean. I am full of praise for what Gerald has achieved, and I am sure he knows his own business, I certainly don’t.
          I know this may be a silly question, but are these recordings now public domain, being over 50 years old?

          • Not a silly question. Up until 2012 this would have been the case for 50 year old recordings, but from 2013 all recordings from 1963 onwards have 70 year copyright.
            I am in awe of this project, the sheer cost of doing it properly like this when you are a small independent would have me sweating buckets if I’d tried it.
            Really glad for him that it came out so well.

            • Being for the benefit of Mr Short

              I am in awe as well.

              Huge thanks to Mr Short for such a high quality product in terms design, replication of the originals, heavy weight vinyl with superb (and I mean superb)sound quality,fair and reasonable pricing,informative booklet,being easy to deal with,commitment to the music and gritty determination in getting a deal with Universal after 20 years! I could go on!

              I count myself a lucky owner of set 34

              With 1000 worldwide among modern jazz vinyl collectors.Unsurprising that its sold out.

              Any chance of any of the other rare Lansdowne back catalogue I wonder?

  8. Most of my thoughts echo yours, Andy. I submitted my (all to brief) review this week for inclusion in the next issue of Long Live Vinyl magazine. The word count is too scant to do justice to the importance of this reissue. So I’ll be doing a much more detailed blog posting in January along with some choice photos of the master tapes. There is a sad irony that this limited edition box set has actually be pressed in greater numbers than several of the original LPs!

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