Change Is, is the final album by the Don Rendell/Ian Carr quintet, a small Brit jazz group that took the country by storm and was well received in Europe and in limited circles in the United States. The band developed a unique sound that came out of hard bop and moved through many different phases, developing a unique musical language before they reached the mountain top of creative expression with this final album. Trumpeter Ian Carr, of course went on to form Nucleus, and enjoyed continued high-profile success. Saxophonist Rendell took a lower key approach but continues to contribute to the growth of British jazz with numerous projects as a leader and as a sideman. Other players here include pianist and composer Michael Garrick, drummer Trevor Tomkins, and bassist Dave Green. Guests on this set include African percussionist Guy Warren, saxophonist Stan Robinson, bassist Jeff Clyne, and pianist Mike Pyne. The six selections on Change Is run the gamut. The album opens with "Elastic Dreams," featuring all manner of Warren's percussive imagination. Green bows his bass as Clyne plucks his, and the band enters slowly, following both mode and melody by coloring phrases before breaking into a low-key, swinging, funky kind of Eastern blues before the bassists enter into a bit of contrapuntal duet soloing. This is followed by a swaggering, straight-ahead hard bop in "One Green Eye." Then there's the deep blues experimental groove of "Boy, Dog And Carrot" with Garrick playing harpsichord. "Cold Mountain," with its nod to Eastern blues and harmonics is sparely textured and delicately played, and, the classically tinged post-bop of "Black Hair," is an eye-opener before the set closes with the nocturnal grace of "Mirage." This was a send-off that must have had British jazz fans being simultaneously delighted and in mourning for the passage of an era. Reissued by England's BGO label on CD in 2004, Change Is stands the test of time exceedingly well. It still sounds fresh, brave and innovative in the 21st century.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek