Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Directions In Jazz Unit

The Directions In Jazz Unit - Directions In Jazz - 1964
PHILIPS Records BL 7625

Side A
Night Talk
Morning Theories
Lady Day
Honky Tonk
Caber Dance

Side B
Monkey Business
New Orleans
Times 2 1/2
Rustic Gait

The Directions In Jazz Unit - The Road To Ellingtonia - 1965
PHILIPS Records - BL 7673

Side A
It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Git That Swing)
Progressive Gavotte
Prelude To A Kiss
C Jam Blues

Side B
Upper Manhattan Medical Group
Come Sunday
You Better Know It

The Directions In Jazz Unit are -

Bill LeSage - leader, vibes, piano, arranger
Bob Burns - clarinet, alto sax
Johnny Scott - flute, alto sax
Ronnie Ross - baritone sax, bass clarinet
Spike Heatley - bass
Tony Carr - drums
The Freddie Alexander Cello Ensemble - Freddie Alexander, Maurice Westerby, Francis Gabarro, William De Mont

The Directions In Jazz Unit were one of the most inventive and adventurous British jazz groups of the early sixties. Featuring a sextet of jazz luminaries and a cello ensemble the group played 'third stream' music, the fusion of jazz and classical music, and the results are fantastic. Sadly only these two albums were recorded, although a slightly modified (and uncredited) version of the group did record 'Twice Times Keyboard' in 1965 for World Record Club. Largely their music has been forgotten over time which is a crime as they were so good.

The first album is mostly compositions written by Bill LeSage, Ronnie Ross, Johnny Scott or Spike Heatley with arrangements of Miles Davis' 'Milestones' and Hoagy Carmichael's 'New Orleans'. The Second album, recorded a year later, is made up entirely of new arrangements of songs made famous by the Duke Ellington orchestra.

Despite recording the albums the group were not really a working unit and in the time between recording the albums the group only made a few university dates, a television appearance and one major concert. Perhaps this lack of exposure is why they are largely unheard of today. A search of the internet to find clips to share with you only resulted in finding two videos of footage from the 1960's BBC program Jazz 625. One of them being the whole of the recent BBC4 documentary and the clip (also from that documentary) of the group performing 'Night Talk', which I've included below. I wish there was more to share with you and that this great music was still available and it's worth recognised. If you want to hear more check out the Jazz 625 documentary on YouTube (while it's still there) or track down the LPs they are still available at reasonable prices but I'm sure soon they will start to attract the ridiculously high prices of other British jazz classics from the 1960's.

Here is Steve Race introducing The Directions In Jazz Unit on BBC's Jazz 625 in 1964.....

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments welcomed, what do you think?.........

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...