IAN CARR: Old Heartland (CD)

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Ian Carr (21 April 1933 ? 25 February 2009) was a Scottish jazz musician, composer, writer, and educator. Carr performed and recorded with the Rendell-Carr quintet and jazz-rock band Nucleus, and was an associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Old Heartland is completely different to what a follower of Ian's work with Nucleus might expect. It is a suite of four jazz-classical compositions, Northumbrian Sketches, performed with the Manchester String Orchestra (later Kreisler String Orchestra), which has also worked with Michael Nymnan, and three other tunes, performed with old colleagues from Nucleus, Geoff Castle and John Marshall, and others. There's elements of Joseph Haydn, Vaughan William's and Benjamin Britten as Carr builds an indigenous English vocabulary in which to add his knowledge of contemporary jazz, with influences of ECM artists and Miles Davis in his work with Gil Evans.

Northumbrian Sketches was commissioned in 1986 by the Bracknell jazz and classical music festivals; and Carr wrote it as a tribute to his late friend, the author Sid Chaplin. Its lyrical trumpet lines are full of melancholy and majesty, soaring above landscapes of strings. It's sophisticated and highly cultured music, serious and concentrated finely into superb performances. The complementary material is beautifully crafted too, gentle and tastefully fitting the conceptual objective of the recording. The bass clarinet and flugelhorn combinations on Full Fathom Five are particularly lush, and Marshall's gentle percussive touches and Mark Wood's acoustic guitar melodies give the title track the right balance. A great album for quiet contemplation.

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