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The New Don Rendell Quintet: Roarin'

Chris May By

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A fascinating snapshot of the British jazz and rhythm & blues interzone of the early '60s, Roarin' —unavailable for decades and here released on CD for the first time—is well titled. It's a raucous, sweaty, at times honking and screaming ruckus of hard bop, laced with jump jive and blues roots—and it's as enjoyable today as it must have been forty something years ago.

Recorded in '61, the album catches Don Rendell, aged 35, returning to the scene after a year or so's absence, secure in the style which would help make the quintet he later co-led with Ian Carr such a consistently exciting force in British jazz. Passionate, unruly and gloriously rough-edged—Rendell has always placed emotional content above all else—his playing is a turbulent joy throughout (and you can hear why he was the '60s session saxophonist of choice for R&B vocalist Long John Baldry).

Remarkable too is the presence of Graham Bond. Bang on the fulcrum of the jazz/R&B cusp, Bond left Rendell for Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated in '62, more or less putting down the sax in favour of the B3, and a year later formed the Graham Bond Organization, which was home to fellow hardcore cusp-riders Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Jon Hiseman, John McLaughlin and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Still more or less straight-ahead on Roarin', Bond kicks off track one, his own "Bring Back The Burch," like an amphetamine-fuelled Cannonball Adderley and pretty much rides that groove until the end of the set.

Pianist John Burch also straddled the jazz/R&B cusp of the times, though he has since stayed primarily in the jazz camp. Regularly accompanying visiting US stars at London's Ronnie Scott's Club during the mid '60s, he sidelined as a composer (his "Preach And Teach" was the B-side of Georgie Fame's number one British single "Yeh Yeh" in '64). He contributes "Manumission" and "The Haunt," plus some muscular, melodically inventive solos.

Interestingly, Roarin' was produced by the fledgling US producer Ed Michel (the album's original issuing label, Jazzland, was a subsidiary of Riverside). Michel's work here is solid if unspectacular, but he did go on to produce Alice Coltrane's defining Ptah, The El Daoud in '70, amongst other key Impulse! albums, and everybody deserves the chance to warm up.


Track Listing: Bring Back The Burch; Manumission; Blue Monk; Jeannine; You Loomed Out Of Loch Ness; So What; The Haunt.

Personnel: Don Rendell, tenor saxophone; Graham Bond, alto saxophone; John Burch, piano; Tony Archer, bass; Phil Kinorra, drums.

Title: Roarin' | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Ace Records


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