1968, Music

The Pentangle (1968)

This is some pretty good folk jazz / jazz folk stuff, that is classified on RYM as “progressive folk” and “folk rock” for some reason. (Well, there is a reason: it’s possible they don’t recognize the existence of the folk jazz / jazz folk sub-genre, despite how much of it there is out there.) Anyway…

This is considerably more folky than the efforts of Tim Buckley or Van Morrison, the two most famous folk jazz practitioners. Unlike Buckley, there are not electric instruments and there is no lead singer improvising (rather it’s the players who improvise). And unlike Morrison, there’s no fusion of other genres – it’s just traditional British folk plus jazz-inspired improvisation.

Instead it’s a quintet of folk musicians – there’s a drummer with a small kit, but the bassist is playing a stand up – playing entirely acoustic instruments who play traditional folk songs, and “originals” that sure sound borrowed from jazz (at least one of them does), which would resemble traditional British folk except for the fact that there are extended, improvisatory guitar, bass and drum solos in the middle of these songs. The closest thing I know of in comparison is John Martyn, but Martyn’s music is way more traditional in terms of his approach, and way more contemporary sounding, and the improvisation is kept to a relative minimum. (I believe there is some overlap between The Pentangle and Martyn’s backing band.)

Anyway, this is great stuff: it’s utterly unique and the band manages to balance a relatively traditional folk sound with great soloing. I would have loved to see them live.

9/10

  1. “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” Traditional 2:37
  2. “Bells” Pentangle 3:52
  3. “Hear My Call” The Staple Singers 3:01
  4. “Pentangling” Pentangle 7:02
  5. “Mirage” Bert Jansch 2:00
  6. “Way Behind the Sun” Traditional 3:01
  7. “Bruton Town” Traditional 5:05
  8. “Waltz” Pentangle 4:54
  • Jacqui McShee – vocals
  • Bert Jansch – acoustic guitar, vocals
  • John Renbourn – acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Danny Thompson – double bass
  • Terry Cox – drums, vocals

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