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5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
Format: Audio CD|Change
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I'm delighted to have this classic album back in my collection again and remastered on CD.

Ardley`s seminal album has always been a favourite of mine – I stole phrases from Ian Carr's flugel horn and Ken Shaw's electric guitar solos which I fitted into my own playing at every opportunity for years...!
The piece is entirely constructed on simple (but beautifully arranged) melodies built on the Balinese pelog scale, which gives a unity and multi-layered complexity to the whole work; the soloists are outstanding, Barbara Thompson's impassioned soprano sax solo on Rainbow Four is possibly one of the best she ever recorded. The 13-piece band (with a couple of substitutions on some tracks) was basically an augmented version of Ian Carr's Nucleus with Ardley at the helm; Paul Buckmaster, the surprise electric cello soloist was a composer/arranger working with the likes of Elton John around that time – and what a sterling, funky contribution he makes! Like-wise Bob Bertles, whose mercurial soprano sax picks up from Shaw's guitar solo cheekily quoting “High Society” in it's opening phrase before storming to the end of Rainbow Six.
The album is notable, too, for it's inspired use of electronica; synthesisers, electric keyboards and various sound distorting devices and studio techniques still being pioneered in jazz at the time are subtly but very effectively deployed; the piece was indicative of how creative and distinct British jazz had become from it's American counterparts during this decade.

“Kaleidoscope” is just one of those timeless recordings that endears itself to just about everyone who hears it; listen to the sound samples above or go to the mp3 download page; playing time is just under 55 minutes.
Buy this, it's a great album.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 November 2010
I have much to thank Neil Ardley for. He wrote the manual that went with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, that I initially purchased just to play chess on, but which led to my getting the programming bug, and ultimately a highly fulfilling career in software development. Later, having attained fatherhood, he turned up again as co-author of the famous 'How Things Work', with which I spent not a few delightful hours with my children. But, all that aside, what I would hope that Neil, Gawd rest 'is soul, is most remembered for is his music (sadly unlikely), and in particular his magnificent masterpiece, Kaleidoscope of Rainbows.

When it was released, in the mid 70s, I remember catching it on R3 and being fascinated enough to buy it. I suspect that I was still too musically immature to fully understand what an achievement it was, but I knew that I liked what I was hearing a lot. Having recently reacquired it I can genuinely say I am all the more impressed, and enjoying it as much, if not more, having had 30 odd years to hone my appreciation of jazz improvisation and classical form and counterpoint. 30 years later and having listened to a lot music, and being one who is particularly interested in what happens where the boundaries of musical genres collide, I can't think of a single example of anything that achieves such a perfectly blended equilibrium between, jazz, rock, classical and electronics.

The album is written for a medium sized jazz ensemble. Not a brassy big band, but a more flexible blend of jazz brass and wind, but with its backbone formed from a remarkably mature, given the era, electronic score, around which the other instruments are interwoven with extremely confident and capable counterpoint. So as well as being a showcase for some of the leading British jazz soloists of the time, Kaleidoscope is above all a superbly assured and entirely well formed composition. It consists of seven movements, as per the colours of the rainbow, each of a quite distinctive mood, but that interlock to form a perfect whole, without any weaknesses. Not a bar too many or too few at any point along the way

There are several solos on the album that are probably recording-career defining for the musicians concerned. Ian Carr on Trumpet; Barbara Thomson on Sax, three solos at her absolutely astonishing best; Tony Coe on clarinet; and a guy called Paul Buckmaster making the most astonishing sounds, and a superbly constructed solo, with an electrified cello. That is to just name a few personal favourites.

In all those intervening years, having seen jazz ensembles come and go, come together and split apart, I can think of nothing that matches this for ambition and elegance. It only remains for me to reiterate what other reviewers have said, which is that this is an essential purchase for any serious lover of jazz, for more reasons than can be stated in the space available.
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on 26 July 2007
With an impressive line-up of players including Barbara Thompson, Geoff Castle, Dave Mcrae, Paul Buckmaster, Ian Carr, I knew that this was going to be a great album before I even heard it!

Neil Ardley wrote a great piece of music, but he wisely let the players develop and improvise around the themes.

I purchased this as a vinyl disc when it was released in 1976. I was impressed then, but now thanks to an excellent re-mastering job it sounds even better than when I first heard it.

I love all the tracks, but my personal favourites are Rainbow One with solos from Ian Carr and Brian Smith (not to mention the "magic synth" intro by Neil Ardley), Rainbow Three with Paul Buckmaster on funky and freaky electric cello and Rainbow Four with Barbara Thompson's excellent alto sax solo.

This composition revolves around interwining themes played on sax, flute, piano, cello and percussion. The themes just swirl and intensify to a resolved conclusion.

The excellent bass guitar courtesey of Roger Sutton can be heard clearly throughout this recording and provides a great underpinning for all that is going on "on top".

Now sounding even better than ever this is a wonderful memorial to Neil Ardley who passed away in 2004.
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on 29 May 2010
Neil Ardley has been described as the Briish Gil Evans and this is a cast iron classic from the mid-Seventies. KoR is a suite of pieces linked by harmonically shifting motifs - 'Rainbows' -rather like the promenades in Mussorgsky/Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition. Here the melding of jazz improvisation, rock rhythms and Balinese harmonies is wholly successful and bears repeated listening. There are fine solos from Barbara Thompson, Tony Coe and Ian Carr but its the sonic textures and beautiful melodies that make the piece so engaging. Extravagantly praised when it was first released, KoR has stood the test of time and is testimony to the skills of a much missed composer and arranger.
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on 31 May 2010
Wore out my Vinyl copy.
This is timeless, one of the few CD's that I play from start to finish every time.
Not one bar of filler on it.
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on 17 March 2009
I fell in love with this over 30 years ago and wondered if it would stand the test of time. No need to worry. It's simply timeless, great music. Beautiful and life enhancing.
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on 18 April 2016
Splendid stuff from the 70s - lived up to all my musical memories of that time. Good, original, groundbreaking, but accessible, British jazz featuring great musicians, many sadly no longer with us.
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on 18 June 2014
This is an exceptionally good piece of work - the melodies are mesmerising, the playing unequalled and the compostional style is imaginative, focused and invigorating

Buy it and see
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on 1 March 2013
the best album by Neil Ardley, this album is a who's who of British jazz musicians I bought this album on cassette when it first came out - brilliant music so well played - 10/10
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on 13 March 2015
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