Neil Ardley & The New Jazz Orchestra on the Radio: BBC Sessions 1971

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Neil Ardley
LABELS: Dusk Fire Records
ALBUM TITLE: Neil Ardley & The New Jazz Orchestra
WORKS: On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
PERFORMER: Neil Ardley (conductor), Harry Beckett, Ian Carr, Henry Lowther (trumpet), Mike Gibbs (trombone), Don Rendall, Dick Heckstall-Smith (reeds) et al

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Neil Ardley’s day job in the ’70s was writing science books, yet he also made his name composing and arranging Third Stream (a fusion of jazz and classical) music for London’s young jazz talents. These live recordings, made for radio in 1971, are like a time capsule with their strings, ‘proggy’ guitar and weird electronic effects.

But the energy of the 20-piece New Jazz Orchestra and its soloists is impressive. ‘Tanglewood ’63’ sweeps open like a lofty Copland work and ends in controlled chaos with Heckstall-Smith crazily playing two saxes simultaneously; Mike Taylor’s ‘Half Blue’, a sinister tuning-up piece, segues into the magisterial ‘Pendulum’ and a bright flugel horn solo from Ian Carr.

The bonus track, the only known recording of Ardley’s 28-minute epic ‘The Time Flowers’, uses four soloists with strings and electronica. Inspired by a JG Ballard short story, it captures in sound the author’s vision of dystopian modernity.

Garry Booth

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.