A Symphony of Amaranths
Amaranths are everlasting flowers, and A Symphony of Amaranths is dedicated to two immortals who produced the greatest orchestral jazz music - Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. The whole work is based on their initials - the notes DE and GE - and A Symphony of Amaranths is the second in a trilogy of works begun with The Greek Variations and followed by Kaleidoscope of Rainbows that all use a sequence of notes to provide the foundation for composition and improvisation. The album, recorded in 1971, was the first recording ever to receive an Arts Council award. Scored for a large jazz orchestra (effectively the New Jazz Orchestra, which Neil Ardley had directed in the 1960s) with added woodwind, harp and strings, A Symphony of Amaranths is the most romantic and harmonically dense piece of music that Neil Ardley ever composed.
This album also contains two vocal settings by Neil Ardley, the earliest example of his vocal music. The first is a setting of Edward Lear's famous nonsense poem The Dong with a Luminous Nose wonderfully and uniquely told by Ivor Cutler backed by an unusual chamber orchestra containing keyboards, vibraphone, harp, violin and cello that provides an atmospheric setting for the poem. The second setting is of three poems by W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and Lewis Carroll, beautifully sung by Norma Winstone with the large jazz orchestra minus the strings.
Tracks [Total time 47.55]
A Symphony of Amaranths : 1 Carillon 2 Nocturne 3 Entracte 4 Impromptu; The Dong with a Luminous Nose; Three Poems : 1 After Long Silence 2 She Weeps Over Rahoon 3 Will You Walk A Little Faster?
Derek Watkins, Nigel Carter, Henry Lowther, Harold Beckett (trumpets) : Derek Wadsworth, Ray Premru (trombones) : Dick Hart (tuba) : Barbara Thompson, Dave Gelly, Don Rendell, Dick Heckstall-Smith (woodwind, saxes) : John Clementson (oboe) : Bunny Gould (bassoon) : Dave Gelly (glockenspiel) : Neil Ardley (prepared piano) : David Snell, Sidonie Goossens (harp) : Stan Tracey (piano, celeste) : Karl Jenkins (electric piano) : Alan Branscombe (harpsichord) : Frank Ricotti (vibraphone, percussion) : Chris Laurence, Jeff Clyne (bass) : Jon Hiseman (drums, percussion) : Eric Gruenberg, Jack Rothstein, Kelly Isaacs (violin) : Ken Essex (viola) : Charles Tunnell, Francis Gabarro (cello) : Ivor Cutler (narrator) ; Norma Winstone (vocal) : Jack Rothstein, Neil Ardley (conductor)