Nucleus

Nucleus was an English revolving-door jazz-rock ensemble that released eight albums on Vertigo between 1970 and 1975, followed by a live disc on Contemp and two further albums on Capitol and Mood Records between 1977 and 1980. The band was formed in 1969 by veteran trumpeter Ian Carr, who had co-led the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet throughout most of the 1960s. On certain Nucleus releases, Carr’s name is affixed to the nameplate.

Members: Ian Carr (trumpet, flugelhorn), Karl Jenkins (keyboards, oboe, saxophone), Brian Smith (saxophone, percussion, flute, clarinet), Chris Spedding (guitar), Jeff Clyne (bass), John Marshall (drums, percussion), Geoff Castle (keyboards), Roger Sellars (drums), Bernie Holland (guitar), Billy Kristian (bass), Ken Shaw (guitar), Roger Sutton (bass), Dave MacRae (keyboards), Roy Babbington (bass), Clive Thacker (drums), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Jocelyn Pitchen (guitar), Aureo de Souza (percussion), Joy Yates (vocals), Bob Bertles (saxophone, percussion, vocals, flute), Gordon Beck (piano), Bryan Spring (drums), Kieran White (vocals), Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), Harry Beckett (trumpet),Tony Roberts (saxophone), Tony Levin (drums), Ron Mathewson (bass), Chris Karan (percussion), Keith Winter (synthesizer), Norma Winstone (vocals), Tony Coe (clarinet), Trevor Tomkins (percussion), Paddy Kingsland (synthesizer), Neil Ardley (synthesizer), Richard Burgess (percussion), Chris Fletcher (percussion), Ray Russell (guitar), Joe Hubbard (bass), Tim Whitehead (saxophone), Mark Wood (guitar), Nic France (drums, percussion), Chucho Merchán (bass), Dill Katz (bass), Mo Foster (bass), Steve Berry (bass), Phil Todd (saxophone), Paul Carmichael (bass)


Nucleus was assembled in 1969 by trumpeter Ian Carr, fresh off a six-year stint as Don Rendell’s co-leader in the Rendell-Carr Quintet. For the first Nucleus lineup, he recruited Welsh reedist/keyboardist Karl Jenkins (ex-Graham Collier Septet), Kiwi saxophonist Brian Smith (Mike Westbrook Concert Band), drummer John Marshall (Michael Garrick, Jack Bruce), and guitarist Chris Spedding (Battered Ornaments, Frank Ricotti). Marshall and Spedding had recently interacted on Jack Bruce’s 1969 solo debut Songs for a Tailor.

Nucleus won first prize at the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival and released their debut album, Elastic Rock, on Vertigo that year.

“Elastic Rock” – “Taranaki” slow bass/Fender/flugelhorn melody that modulates downward from Am… (1:39) “Twisted Trac” Chris Spedding composition built around a clean, muted guitar figure that waves higher and high over a steady root note… trumpet takes hold, flanked with billowing woodwinds….drumming/volume intensifies… Crude Blues 1… Karl Jenkins oboes solo Crude Bluse 2… funky full-band arrangement with tradeoff between Carr and Jenkins… spiraling oboe solo by Jenkins… 1916-The Battle of Boogaloo… wiggly bass in odd meter amid cymbal spray and interlocking brass/woodwinds Torrid Zone…Click-started mid-tempo, dark/loungey Fender saturated arrangement call/response between open-cadence bass notes and a descending guitar figure…. Cocktail-tone midsection with brisk drumming/ billowing flugelhorn After-hours vibe pervades much of this set, indebted to In a Silent Way… parallels to mid-period Soft Machine (4, 5), the Belgian band Placebo, perhaps the first Weather Report album… somber, subtle, refined, moody…


Discography:

  • Elastic Rock (1970)
  • Solar Plexus (1971 • Ian Carr With Nucleus)
  • We’ll Talk About It Later (1971)
  • Labyrinth (1973 • Ian Carr With Nucleus)
  • Roots (1973)
  • Under the Sun (1974)
  • Alleycat (1975)
  • Snakehips Etcetera (1975)
  • In Flagrante Delicto (live, 1977)
  • Out of the Long Dark (1979)
  • Awakening (1980)

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