The New Don Rendell Quintet


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Billed to "the New Don Rendell Quintet," this 1961 album was an important document of early-'60s British jazz, proving that U.K. jazz musicians could play well in the hard bop style that had been pioneered in the United States. It's not incredibly distinctive or innovative when measured against the best American music in the style, particularly since the group chose to make three of the seven tracks covers of famous compositions by three major U.S. jazzmen (Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," Duke Pearson's "Jeannine," and Miles Davis' "So What"). However, the group does perform with respectable energy and swing, as well as effectively integrating decent original material. For rock fans, the record's most notable for Graham Bond's presence on alto sax; a couple of years or so after this session, Bond would form his own group, the other players including future Cream rhythm section members Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. He's not the dominant force on this LP, however, or even the only sax player, as leader Rendell handles the tenor sax. In addition, there's little specific similarity with Bond's later work, on which he'd usually sing and play organ on British blues-rock with a jazz influence, though you can hear some of the manic intensity for which Bond was known in his alto playing on "Manumission." After a long stretch of unavailability, the album was issued on CD in 2004, with the addition of historical liner notes.

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