Don Rendell: w/Joe Palin 3 Live at the Avgarde, Manchester (1973) Spotlite

Selection 1: Antibes (10:24)

.  .  .

Comparison: Antibes (from Space Walk, Lansdowne Studios, Columbia Magic Notes, December 1970)

.  . .

Bonus Selection 2: Euphrates (12:30)

.  .  .


A1. On The Way          8:00
A2. Euphrates             12:30
A3. I Can’t Get Started 7:17 
B1. Antibes                  10:24
B2. Summer Song       13:30

All compositions Don Rendell except A3, Gershwin, V. Duke.

The venue: Avgarde Gallery, Manchester; Jazz, Blues & Folk Shop of the North

(Save Cecil Taylor the punctuation correction, the graffiti is missing the shriek-mark, IT’S GRIM UP NORTH!) 


Ian Taylor, double bass; Gordon Beckett, drums; Don Rendell, flute, soprano and tenor saxophones; Joe Palin, piano; Pete Martin (tracks: A3, B1) trumpet, flugelhorn; recorded October 3, 1973, live at the Avgarde Gallery, Manchester, England; John Pilgrim, recording  engineer; Richard Langham, mastering/cutting engineer.

The Guardian’s obit of Joe Palin (2007) describes him as “The best bebop pianist to come out of Manchester”. I’m a bit sceptical of geographic league-tables. Am I the best jazz writer to come out of London? Hmm, possibly not. Palin’s obit singles out this Spotlite title for comment: “In Don Rendell Live at the AvGarde, Palin’s forceful intensity overcomes a battered piano, playing McCoy Tyner to Rendell’s Coltrane, Palin holds nothing back.” That’s more like it. 

 Joe Palin had an active presence in the mid-50s British jazz scene, as house pianist at Club 43 in Manchester (not the notorious Club 43 of the same name in London’s Soho) playing with touring artists including Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and Don Rendell. He turned down an invitation to join Johnny Dankworth, and instead pursued an academic career teaching Music, which is probably why he was not known to many. This may be Palin’s only presence on vinyl.

Guest trumpeter Pete Martin was many years later to become Head of Sociology at Manchester University, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. On being appointed Dean, Pete apparently quipped “I only ever wanted to be Dizzy Gillespie, but now I’m Dean Martin.”  


Rendell’s Space Walk album includes three compositions featured in this Avgarde session, which Rendell says are now more satisfactory interpretations. Space Walk was recorded in late December 1970, but not released until 1972. Live at The Avgarde was recorded in October 1973.  Rendell claims Palin and his trio had not heard the Space Walk album before. The readings are similar but the Manchester live recording, despite some rough edges, has a raw pungency which is quite attractive.

On the track Antibes, Pete Martin holds down beautiful counter-figure harmonies as Rendell leads the iconic melody. It has a live club-date feel which is forgiving of any lack of studio polish. In the studio, take 25 may have no faults, but the musicians long-robbed of spontaneity, and wanting to get down the pub. 

Vinyl: Spotlite 501 – one of the first Spotlite releases

The recording is monaural, but certainly not an audience bootlegger’s PoV, but professionally though secretly taped from the mixing desk to a single channel tape deck. The instruments have close-miked presence, strong attack and transients, and the ambience is very much “live performance” acoustics. It sounds better to me than many studio sessions.

Vinyl etching RJL: mastering/cutting engineer Richard J. Langham, credit denoted by RJL initials in the runout. Langham was a former recording engineer at Abbey Road Studios, famous for his work with The Beatles (1963-1964 and 1969-1970)

It is remarkable that Spotlite producer Tony Williams secured the services of so many high-end engineers for his modest little jazz label.  It is always a sign of audio quality when the label owner understands the importance of engineering (Alfred Lion/ Rudy Van Gelder, Lester Koenig/ Roy DuNann) and the engineer is sufficiently proud of his own work to sign it.

The runout has none of the stamps that identify other major plants. Pressed by Orlake Records, Dagenham, Essex, who are linked with other Spotlite titles.

Collector’s Corner

I had to hunt high and low for this title. Spotlite are not considered trophies, undervalued and more likely to be found in a thrift store than listed on auction sites, but they are worth seeking out.

A week in France has left me a little running late on Collector’s Corner. With much of Europe suffering heatstroke, and France’s forests blazing, the arsonist’s delight, it’s a timely reminder to tell your vinyl to stay cool.

With very little music incoming, and rail strikes curtailing access to London shops, current audiophile reissues not hitting the spot, I just bet the farm on a Strata East I have been after for years, from a rookie seller with no track record. I don’t recommend this, acting against my own best advice, one way or another a tale for a future Collector’s Corner



9 thoughts on “Don Rendell: w/Joe Palin 3 Live at the Avgarde, Manchester (1973) Spotlite

  1. Hi LJC , great to see some of these Spotlight LP’s getting some attention. They did some excellent titles and as you mention brought in top tier engineers. Can highly recommend the Tubby Hayes on SPJ 902.


  2. Wasn’t the ‘Club 43’ that Palin’s trio played in as ‘house trio’ the one in Manchester, that featured touring UK and international guests (Tubby, Roland Kirk etc.), not the London venue as stated (which I believe was an older ‘jazz age’ den of iniquity).

    Lots of good information and photos covering Ernie Garside’s Club 43 and other Manchester jazz venues in Bill Birch’s book ‘Keeper of the Flame’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Club 43 moved around various venues in Manchester, as detailed in the excellent book you mention. My Dad was a member.




      • I can’t argue with the ” dad was a member”. Joe Palin as house pianist “Club 43” Manchester sound more plausible than “Club 43” Gerard Street, though as a Londoner the history of Soho’s Gerrad Street – sex, vice, drugs, gangsters – was a bit more interesting and, umm, familiar.

        Part of the Google algorithm is that it elevates search results by links and frequency. London’s Cub 43 has lots of online content, Manchester’s Club 43 little or none. So, in this case search points in the wrong direction. Useful to know.

        Always grateful for corrections.


  3. John Pilgrim was in the Vipers Skiffle group, and later involved in promoting jazz recordings through different labels and writing about jazz. A important man of information & knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

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