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JJ 07/70: Nucleus at The Phoenix

Fifty years ago Pete Gamble thought Nucleus in general one of the better fusions of jazz and the "basic rhythm of rock" but not so much on this particular night. First published in Jazz Journal July 1970

Ian Carr’s Nucleus represents one of the better attempts to fuse jazz with the basic rhythm of rock. For this gig at The Phoenix, one not only heard the group at their best, but also, unfortunately, at their worst. The group’s line-up consists of Carr (trumpet & flugelhorn), John Taylor (electric piano), Chris Spedding (guitar), Jeff Clyne (bass guitar) and John Marshall (drums). Art Themen (tenor), subbed for the absent Brian Smith.

As one might expect Carr is the group’s out­standing voice, and he played three or four really excellent solos; one muted offering proved to be particularly beautiful. However, with the high standards of musicianship set by the trumpeter, the group needed a second authori­tative soloist, which they obviously lacked.

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John Taylor was strangely subdued even allowing for the restrictions laid down by the rock beat, and Chris Spedding’s front-line outings were nothing short of disastrous; however his bottle­neck work was thankfully down to a minimum. Clyne and Marshall seemed particularly at home within this framework, even if at times the rhythm did feel a little heavy.

In short, a group worth a listen if you dig Ian Carr, and if you approach contemporary jazz with an open mind.

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