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NEIL ARDLEY

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Neil Ardley biography
Neil Ardley was a musician and composerin London in the 1960s, writing and playing first for the John Williams Big Band,and then the New Jazz Orchestra, where he recorded with such notables as Jack Bruce, David Greenslade and many others. He pioneered a compositional style in which he would blend classical methods with the spontaeity of jazz.

In the 1980s Ardley ventured into electronic music, and in more recent years was focusing on vocal and choral pieces. Ardley died at age 66 in 2004.

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NEIL ARDLEY discography


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NEIL ARDLEY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.27 | 7 ratings
Greek Variations (with Ian Carr & Don Rendell)
1969
3.71 | 7 ratings
A Symphony Of Amaranths
1971
4.11 | 18 ratings
Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
1976
3.46 | 10 ratings
Harmony of the Spheres
1979

NEIL ARDLEY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
camden '70 (with The New Jazz Orchestra)
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Neil Ardley & The New Jazz Orchestra: On the Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
2017

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NEIL ARDLEY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

NEIL ARDLEY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Harmony of the Spheres by ARDLEY, NEIL album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.46 | 10 ratings

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Harmony of the Spheres
Neil Ardley Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by keg11v

4 stars I've been really surprised at how much flack this album seems to have received in review, including the sole review on this website prior to mine. Is it Ardley's most impactful work? Not for most people. Is it a singular effort from an accomplished composer who was exploring new horizons for himself? Absolutely, and to be sure, Ardley's characteristic subtleties with modal jazz still totally shine through in this album. For those coming to "jazz-rock" from more of a rock arena, let me recommend that you crank this album and simply let it ROCK, especially during the first and last portions-- trust me, you'll feel it. There is an established funky groove throughout most of this work, suited with heavy bass lines and tight syncopation that at times even conjures some of the heavier prog-funk, whether or not there is a direct influence. If you like the heavy combo of funk-rock rhythm section with wind instruments & synths as heard in the Nucleus/Soft Machine love-fest, you'll be right at home with this album, which features some of the same musicians. That being said, I'll admit that sometimes the synth-laden leads don't quite deliver the lushness and tonal breadth that we know they were capable of even in the late 1970's. Moreover, some of the best parts of the album are the rarer semi-improvisational sections featuring Nucleus and the power trio core of drums/bass/guitar, which can leave one wanting more. And so, people seem to decide the album doesn't quite fit in any hyphenated genre and dismiss it as half-assed, I guess. I disagree; In Harmony of the Spheres, Ardley presents a delicately composed milestone that not only covered new ground for him, but was certainly a valuable creative outgrowth of the fusions happening in the jazz and rock worlds of the late '70s. The synths aren't competing with the more traditional brass & woodwinds & keys here-- they're carrying them to new territory, or at least making a damned-good attempt to. Keep in mind also that Neil Ardley was a sort of modern day renaissance man, and was well into his alternate career of authoring introductory science books (of which he wrote and co-authored over 100). Featuring synth frequencies tuned to the actual harmonic ratios of the orbital periods of our solar system's planets, this album is something of a musical science project, and it reflects the awe and mystique that has surely imbued our perception of the heavens since at least the Pythagoreans of ancient Greece. This isn't a guy honing his band's improv skills with thousands of hours on stage, but rather a naturalist composing tributes to our cosmos with all the musical tools at his disposal at the time. Harmony of the Spheres, while side-stepping the blistering, overdriven, and frenetic improvisation of some of its peers, is still a unique contribution to jazz-rock, patiently balancing the sophisticated textures of the former with the tight, grooving rhythms of the latter. In the sea of all-but-forgotten prog gems, this album is far less derivative than many and deserves a solid listen-through by any prog fan.
 Kaleidoscope of Rainbows by ARDLEY, NEIL album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.11 | 18 ratings

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Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
Neil Ardley Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Neil Ardley is an interesting man as he seemed more content composing the music then bringing in the musicians he wanted to play them and he'd conduct them. Very old school yet this is a man who wrote over a 100 books on not only music but science and technology making an estimated 10 million dollars from those sales. His earlier "Greek Variations" album was almost like being schooled on conventional Jazz, so cold and technical to my ears and over my head. This album from 1976 I can relate to at least.

So crazy that he uses I think eleven NUCLEUS musicians(past, present & future) including the man himself Ian Carr. I counted 15 musicians total and Neil at least adds some synths this time besides conducting. I counted three more synth/ keyboard players, 5 horn players and a wind man. Cello, drums, percussion and vibes. And just reading through the names of musicians brings various NUCLEUS albums to mind. One of the things I really like about this album is the rhythm section with the extra percussions thrown in. So much going on just with that foundation then we get various musicians soloing over top. I like this one so much better.

On the opener we get some spacey atmosphere before the guitar, bass and drums take over then add vibes playing over top. Carr and Brian Smith will solo on this one. I like the flute on "Rainbow Two" as the bass helps out in this mellow start. Electric piano around 2 minutes as the flute steps aside. Sax after 2 1/2 minutes. A beautiful piece of music that is quite drifting and we get solos from Castle and McCrae. Nice contrast then with "Rainbow Three" as the drums jump out of the speakers. Punchy bass and drums as the cello saws away.

Barbara Thompson gives us a sax lesson on "Rainbow Four" while we get that amazing foundation of sounds again on "Rainbow Five" as the horns and guitar play over top. Nice solo from Coe. "Rainbow Six & Seven" is interesting for the space allowed as guitar, horns, bass and beats come and go in atmosphere. Piano before 3 minutes as it changes with shuffling drums and horns as it turns melancholic. Bertram and Shaw solo. It ends with "Epilogue" the over 15 minute goodbye. Lots of highlights of course including the clarinet and piano early on. Love the bass and guitar section 6 1/2 minutes in as the horns step aside. Loud and proud 8 minutes in with guitar over top. Sax is ripping it up before 10 minutes. There's that rhythm section again 11 minutes in, so good.

This one is a keeper and check out that album cover. The music here reminds me at times of THE UNITED JAZZ + ROCK ENSEMBLE out of Germany that includes Thompson and Carr.

 Greek Variations (with Ian Carr & Don Rendell) by ARDLEY, NEIL album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.27 | 7 ratings

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Greek Variations (with Ian Carr & Don Rendell)
Neil Ardley Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I didn't now who Neil Ardley was but when I saw pretty much all of the band members of NUCLEUS on here including mastermind Ian Carr I had to check this out. There's 20 musicians if you count Ardley but according to the liners he only composed and conducted. He does play piano and is from the UK and was somewhat well known around Britain in the 60's, at least in Jazz circles. Not one musician plays on every track so we get 3 bass players including Jack Bruce, Neville Whitehead and Jeff Clyne and the latter two play double bass which leads me to my next comment that this is traditional or conventional Jazz. Yes it close to Fusion at times considering all these NUCLEUS members as well as Chris Spedding playing guitar on three tracks,but yeah suit and tie stuff. Seven horn players including Carr, Barbara Thompson, Karl Jenkins, Brian Smith and more. Trevor Tomkins plays drums on 4 tracks while John Marshall does three including the 24 minute opener. Five string players, 2 cello, 2 violin and 1 viola.

Released in 1970 the title of the album is "Greek Variations & Other Aegean Exercises". Because of who is on here this deserves that fourth star but it's just my alergies to anything too traditional Jazz sounding. Still there was a lot I enjoyed but found I really lost interest after the opener and yes 24 minutes later. There are a ton of horns on this one. A horn heavy album.

 Harmony of the Spheres by ARDLEY, NEIL album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.46 | 10 ratings

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Harmony of the Spheres
Neil Ardley Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

3 stars Jazz-Rock at it's worst.

I hate to say this as Neil Ardley is a respected musician/composer, but this album is amongst those that contributed to quality music being rejected, leading to Punk, New-Wave to emerge as if in protest.

To a novice, this album may come across as amusing, but when you consider that the thumping Fender bass is colored by the other instruments is insufficient to hold one's attention, the whole work just falls apart.

Closer to Funk than to Jazz, the whole delivery is just plain boring. The tracks are remarkably transparent and lacking any subtlety. No, not horrible at all, only a big let-down by the talents involved. Just plain boring.

With some grace, I can rate it as barely a 3, but if you wants to hear quality Jazz inspired music, I'd advise against bothering with this very lightweight release. I have no room for it in my collection.

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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