New Jazz Orchestra - Camden ‘70
New Jazz Orchestra - Camden ‘70 (Dusk Fire Records)
Neil Ardley was well on the way to being a forgotten figure in British jazz, but reissues of some of his work in the past couple of years have gone some way to redressing the balance. It should be said straight away that the sound quality on this live recording will be a stumbling block for many listeners, despite the best efforts of engineer Martin Mitchell.
If you can persevere with it, there are rewards to be gleaned from the music, which reflects a fascinating period in British jazz. The NJO featured an impressive line-up of players, but was most notable for Ardley’s approach to orchestration and arrangement, which went well beyond the staples of big band section work (the influence of Gil Evans is often apparent). Ardley, Jack Bruce, Michael Gibbs and Michael Garrick are among the composers represented, alongside Miles, Coltrane and George Russell.