Saturday, 26 June 2021

Neil Ardley ‎– Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows (1976)

Style: Jazz-Funk, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gull, Line Records

Tracklist:
1.   Prologue
2.   Rainbow 1
3.   Rainbow 2
4.   Rainbow 3
5.   Rainbow 4
6.   Rainbow 5
7.   Rainbow 6
8.   Rainbow 7
9.   Epilogue

Credits:
Bass – Roger Sutton
Conductor, Synthesizer – Neil Ardley
Drums – Roger Sellers
Engineer – Martin Levan
Guitar – Ken Shaw
Percussion, Vibraphone – Trevor Tomkins
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Tony Coe
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ian Carr
Acoustic Cello, Electric Cello – Paul Buckmaster
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Dave MacRae, Geoff Castle
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Barbara Thompson, Bob Bertles
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Alto Flute – Brian Smith
Producer – Paul Buckmaster

Neil Ardley (director, synthesiser), Bob Bertles (alt, sop, flt), Paul Buckmaster ( acoustic & electric cello), Ian Carr (tpt ,flh), Geoff Castle (elec' pno, synth), Tony Coe (tnr, clt, bs clt), Dave Macrae (elec' pno, synth), Roger Sellers (drs), Ken Shaw (gtr), Brian Smith (ten, sop, flt, alt flt), Roger Sutton (bs gtr, bs), Barbara Thompson (alt, sop, flt), Trevor Tomkins (perc', vbs), Stan Sulzman (alt, sop, flt) John Taylor ( elc pno).

1) Prologue/Rainbow One ( Soloists, Ian Carr & Brian Smith) 10m 26s, 2) Rainbow Two (Soloists, Dave Macrae & Geoff Castle) 7m 34s 3) Rainbow Three ( Soloist, Paul Buckmaster) 3m 28s 4) Rainbow Four ( Soloist, Barbara Thompson) 6m 15s 5) Rainbow 5 (Soloist, Tony Coe) 4m 25s 6) Rainbow 6 (Soloists, Ken Shaw & Bob Bertles) 7m 39s 7) Epilogue/Rainbow 7 14m 56s.

 Born in 1937, Neil Ardley himself was a man of many talents, and not confined to jazz. Gaining a BSC from Bristol University he went on to write over one hundred books on science and technology, was on the staff of the World Book Enclopedia for a time and wrote children's books for Hamlyn. His total book sales topped ten million, including his three million best seller The Way Things Work. He also found time to sing in a number of choirs and compose choral works. His early jazz life included a spell as pianist with The John Williams Big Band and the study of writing and arranging under Ray Premru and Bill Russo. He became director of the highly acclaimed New Jazz Orchestra and went on to release nine albums as a leader between 1965 and 2001. He passed away on 23rd April 2004 aged 66.

Recorded at The Morgan Studios in London, this album has for many decades been described as one of the very best in jazz recorded by British musicians. It featured at number 22 in the New Musical Express annual chart of top albums of any genre in its year of release. Two years later in 1978 there was a follow up release by the band entitled Harmony Of The Spheres which included vocalist Norma Winstone. Everything about "Kaleidoscope" is well structured but with plenty of space for the soloists to express themselves. This is evident right from the ensemble based prologue with its cosmic like opening guitar passage and growing intensity that eventually morphs into Rainbow One which features a bright and lively solo from Ian Carr before finally finding calmer waters in the closing bars of Brian Smith's soprano.
Quickly switching to a ballad like mode, Rainbow Two suggests a gentle breeze personified in the twin keyboard sounds of Dave Macrae and Geoff Castle with the bass clarinet of Tony Coe riding sonorously across the soundscape. Admired by Miles Davis, when they collaborated for a time, Paul Buckmaster is one of a very small number of musicians with the ability to bring the cello to jazz with any conviction. In the joyful Rainbow Three utilising both the acoustic and electric instruments over a rock like back beat. The pure class of Barbara Thompsons alto and shimmering soprano sound are evident on the fourth rainbow of the sequence, alongside another fine solo from Ian Carr, who seemed to be on top form throughout. There is urgency in the air as Tony Coe holds sway on both the standard and bass clarinets during number five over a drumming master class from Roger Sellers on Rainbow Five which also highlights the leaders fine arranging skills that were evident across the whole set. It's a serene panorama of the skies for the sixth rainbow, with Ken Shaws subdued but magnificent guitar performance painting a vivid musical view, more akin to the whole universe rather than just a single rainbow. This one really draws the listener in and is perhaps the album highlight. The final Rainbow Seven and the Epilogue are presented as one complete track of almost fifteen minutes. There is more of an orchestral feel to this, the soloists only emerging briefly from the ensemble. It really epitomises the word kaleidoscope on its own and could easily stand alone as an example of the most creative jazz writing and arranging of the time. Although things have moved on somewhat in the world of jazz composition for large ensembles, this work is most certainly deserving of its elevated status, forty four years after the original recording date.
Jim Burlong / Jazz Views