Selection: Mirage (Rendell)
. . .
Everyone raves about the Michael Garrick composition “Cold Mountain”, which is apparently based on the structure of an Indian raga. Indo-Jazz fusion was big in the late -60s, Joe Harriott and Don Rendell were in the thick of it, to my ear it hasn’t worn as well as other material, so I have opted for Mirage, based on the French jet fighter plane. Allegedly. Discogs entry links for Change Is to YouTube uploads of both Mirage and Cold Mountain, so I’ll let you be the judge, fair play, my audiophile kit rip.
Selection: Cold Mountain (Garrick)
. . .
Dave Green, Jeff Clyne, Bass; Trevor Tomkins, drums; Mike Pyne, piano; Michael Garrick, piano, harpsichord; Guy Warren, talking drum, maracas; Stan Robinson, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Don Rendell, tenor saxophone, soprano Saxophone, flute; Ian Carr, trumpet, flugelhorn. Recorded at Lansdowne Studios, Holland Park, March 20 & April 16, 1969, engineers Adrian Kerridge, Michael Weighell.
Coincidentally, my better half, who is half Geordie (I won’t say which half) was sorting through family memorabilia last week when she stumbled on a local newspaper cutting dating back to 1969, regarding a “local” trumpeter, one Ian Carr. She wondered if I had ever heard of him (she hadn’t). Though Carr was born in Dumfries, Scotland, he grew up in the north-east of England – Newcastle, probably one of the best things to come out of Newcastle, apart the river Tyne, my first introduction to beer, Newcastle Brown ale, and artery-endangering Greggs, the bakers, popular for their pies, pasties and sausage rolls, though I should say not with me.
Carr has a rich, fruity sounding horn with great power in the lower register, a melancholy tone, and no trace of a Geordie accent that I can detect. Fifty years ahead of his time, in 1969 he sported a hipster beard that would give him a pass today in Hackney or Spitalfields. At that time I affected the uniform young man’s moody moustache and shoulder-length hair, very dated.
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 1969 – Local Boy Makes Good.
Pity the poor Evening Chronicle hack (think Jimmy Olsen, Daily Planet) hunched over a typewriter, struggling to meet his 1,000 word brief and deadline. “His brother Mike Carr now lives in Portugal, and has a very popular jazz group there.”
Meanwhile brother Ian was putting together the incendiary rock-driven electric fusion band Nucleus, which he took the following year to the Newport Jazz Festival, a story unwritten because it hadn’t yet happened. It’s all about timing. Ian Carr went on to enjoy a long and varied career as composer, writer and broadcaster, departing 2009.
Also making an appearance on Change Is is Guy Warren of Ghana. Warren had found a place in the New York 50’s scene with his fusion of West African and American jazz, recording his own title for EMI Lansdowne series, Afro Jazz – Africa Speaks, India Answers (1968) with Indian guitarist Amancio Da Silva, who featured on the stratospherically expensive Hum Dono album along with Don Rendell. It was a time of experimentation with Cultural Fusion, before the new direction ultimately emerged triumphant as electric Rock Fusion. Viewed with hindsight, a development not necessarily the best outcome for jazz, though some may disagree, you are welcome.
“The Rendell-Carr Quintet, which played between 1963 and 1969, consistently figured in Melody Maker’s jazz polls, both for the quality of its improvisation and the distinctiveness of its unflinching, standards-averse repertoire“. (Reads as written by critic John Fordham I think. All the right words, in the right order)
“Carr’s sound, on both trumpet and flugelhorn, seemed like a strikingly elegant and unhurried adaptation of the legacies of early Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, but with his own slightly melancholy fire” (Guardian Obituary, 2009)
If their previous albums were landmarks in the landscape of 60’s quintessentially British jazz, their final album, Change Is, marked a still further change in direction: austere, classical elements more pronounced, world influences more protruding, yet more new ground. Worthy of exploration, a product of its time.
Vinyl: Columbia Magic Notes (Lansdowne Series) SCX 6368; Jazzman reissue, re-mastered from original tapes, 2019
No subterfuge about “from the best available sources” (my mate Johnny’s bootleg cassette could be) Gerald “Jazzman” Short was granted access to original tapes by Universal, lovingly remastered at Abbey Road Studios. The quality also owes much to the original recording skills of Adrian Kerridge at Lansdowne Studios. If Ian Carr was England’s answer to Miles Davis, Kerridge was our answer to Rudy Van Gelder. Now, what was the question again?
Can we talk dirty? I noticed during the rip that the vinyl surface was a little noisy for a mint new pressing. Rips are merciless in revealing surface issues, sending the histograms spiking out of the pattern of the music.
Taking the disk to the window to catch reflections in direct sunlight was revealing. Many fine specks reflected on the surface, a few of which resisted brushing off, so not domestic airborne source, each a pop. However the sticky specks did yield to firm dry-finger tip pressure, in a few cases only to repeated fingernail pressure until loosened.
Satisfied most had been manually dislodged, the disc went into a x4 cycles of ultrasonic cleaning, emerging significantly cleaner with minimal surface noise. And that’s what you want, vinyl with all it’s inherent detail and space, without any garbage in the grooves. They say never touch the vinyl surface, but I recommend the finger-tip brushing method to dislodge any rogue groove debris before machine cleaning. I recently cured two persistent needle-sticks with this method.
Since an ultrasonic cleaner stops well short of the paper labels, half way into the vinyl land in this case, label and runout photography below has revealed the surface of this new pressing played just a few times and always returned to its inner sleeve. That surface should be pristine black gloss.
Anyone who remember sthe essential ’60’s turntable accessory, the “dust bug” , would be of no help here.
Just last week a copy of Change Is reached its highest ever auction price, of £650.
That is a fraction of what the earlier titles Shades of Blue and Dusk Fire sell for, but that is where it sits, lower in the Rendell Carr hierarchy. The seller dropped this insight into his sales pitch, seeming to know more historical detail:
“ …the final record for the Rendell Carr Quintet, the members were already pulling against each other and Ian Carr’s introduction of Guy Warren to the mix was the final straw”
Seems Guy Warren’s talking drum was not to everyone’s taste.
The maximum price of Change Is pipped an earlier auction that attracted 21 bids, and reached a final price not far off, at £510. All of which makes Jazzman’s reissue tender under £20 quid something of a steal. However it is not “original”, no smell of joss-sticks, flares, and moustaches, and the indefinable feel of ’60s paper and printing technology. But it’s good enough, and I don’t say that often about modern reissues.
FOOTNOTE: I just noticed, LJC just passed the four million page-views mark. Jeez, that more than the last milestone, of three million. I am not posting as often nowadays, just when there is something I feel motivated to write about, not a deadline conveyor-belt, thank you for hanging in there. There is always more to come, always your friend in jazz on vinyl.
Thanks also to the readers who mail me with their queries over identifying record provenance, it’s great fun being a vinyl detective. That’s a name which will appear again in the near future, The Vinyl Detective. If you have anything unusual or mysterious, I’m always glad to try and help. Answers are the easy part, the hard bit is coming up with good questions. Over to you.