12 August 2012


Don Rendell Quintet for  EMI Columbia from 1972.

Don Rendell -tenor,soprano,flute,alto flute ; Stan Robinson -tenor,clarinet,flute ; Peter Shade -vibes,flute ; Jack Thorncroft -bass ; Trevor Tomkins -drums.

Review lifted from Gramophone October 1972:
This is the first complete LP by the Don Rendell Quintet which came into being when the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet split, amoeba-like, into separate units. (Rendell's quintet was heard on part of "Greek Variations" —Columbia SCX6414--which I reviewed in December 1970.) As always Rendell acts as a catalyst, drawing the best from his fellow musicians and setting both example and inspiration to younger men in his employ. Stan Robinson, who partners Don in the front line, has developed into an assured, confident tenor soloist just as Ronnie Ross did when he joined the Rendell Quintet eighteen years ago. In fact there are times when I find it difficult to tell Don and Stan apart, so strong is the Rendell influence. On drums is the ever-improving Trey Tomkins, still one of this country's most underrated percussionists. Jack Thorncroft, an Australian, is the big-toned bass player while Peter Shade doubles flute and vibraphone. With Rendell and Robinson each playing tenor, clarinet and flute (and Don also playing soprano) the quintet is capable of producing a wide variety of tone colours. On Antibes, for example, there are consecutive flute solos by Robinson, Peter Shade and the leader. All four tunes on Side 1 were composed by Rendell who is one of the fastest and most prolific jazz composers I know. (I once arranged to meet him for lunch. I arrived on time but Rendell, who hates to be late for an appointment, had turned up ten minutes early. While waiting for me he had jotted down the melody line and chord symbols for a thirty-two bar chorus tune which had just occurred to him.)
The strength of the writing is in the first side with Summer Song a little gem of a composition. Street Called Straight has an opening eight bars which sound, melodically and harmonically, like an oblique approach to I Can't Get Started. The resemblance ends there however but this is a track on which, until I referred to Charles Fox's useful sleeve-note, I was almost certain that it was Don who took the tenor part. (In fact Rendell plays flute on this number while Stan Robinson switches to tenor.)
The writing on Side 2 is shared; Euroaquilo (composed by Robinson), Space Walk (Peter Shade) and A Matter Of Time (Trey Tomkins and tenor saxophonist Dave Quincy). Some of the tracks have an easy ambiguity in terms of time and it says a great deal for Don Rendell, who has spent so much of his life thinking and playing in common time, that he moves over and through the changing time signatures with complete freedom. This is really a very attractive and thoroughly professional album which has steadily grown on me since I first received it. Strongly recommended. A.M.