JJ 10/80: Don Rendell – Earth Music

Forty years ago, Chris Sheridan thought Earth Music to be British jazz with the merest touch of Ellington. First published in Jazz Journal October 1980


Don Rendell has consistently represented a peak in British jazz achievements, having, in his twin roles as saxophonist and composer and arranger, only peers in his 35 years in the business. Fittingly, this album is a vividly coloured display of both sides of his personality.

Infrequent roughness round the edges (it was a ‘live’ performance) is more than adequately compen­sated for by the immediacy and urgency of the playing, both in ensemble and solo. Nieman (Mango), Pearce (Genesis, Ground) and Wakeman (Firma) are particularly impressive, but it is Don’s showcase, and he celebrates with joyous playing on every title.

The elements of the suite succeed each other cohesively and, though melodically varied, symmetry is provided by the thematic coagula­tion that forms Finale.

An occasional fragment of Ellingtonian urbanity is felt in the writing (Seven Sea), but, even then, there is no apeing – this is British jazz of a high order and justifiably proud of it.

Genesis Jump; Meridian Mango; Land Lovers ; Seven Seas Rock (19.09) – Blues Tones; Tenor Firma; Strata Dance; Ground Finale (21.02)
Don Rendell Nine: Dick Pearce (t); Paul Nieman (tb); Pete Hurt (as); Rendell (a-f/cl/ss/ts); Alan Wakeman (ss/ts); John Williams (bsl); Pete Saberton (p/el-p); Paul Bridge (b); Trevor Tomkins (d): Greenwich Festival, Woolwich Public Hall, London, 18/6/79.(Spotlite SPJ 515)