Don Rendell

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Don Rendell
Birth nameDonald Percy Rendell
Born(1926-03-04)4 March 1926
Plymouth, England
Died20 October 2015(2015-10-20) (aged 89)[1]
InstrumentsTenor Saxophone
Soprano Saxophone
Years active1943–2015

Donald Percy Rendell (4 March 1926 – 20 October 2015) was an English jazz musician and arranger. Mainly active as a tenor saxophonist, he also played soprano saxophone, flute, and clarinet.


Rendell was born in Plymouth, England, and raised in London where he attended the City of London School, to which he gained a choral half-scholarship. The school was evacuated during the Second World War to Marlborough College, where Rendell heard Jazz for the first time. His father, Percy, was the musical director of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company; his mother Vera (née Trewin) was also a musician.[1] His father died when Rendell was 16.[2]

Rendell had begun to play the piano aged five, but switched to saxophone in his teens.[1] While he began his working life in the Southgate branch of Barclay's Bank, he soon left to become a professional musician.[2] He began his career on alto saxophone but changed to tenor saxophone in 1943.[3][4] During the rest of the 1940s, he was in the bands of George Evans and Oscar Rabin.[3] Beginning in 1950, he spent three years in a septet led by Johnny Dankworth.[3] He performed with Billie Holiday in Manchester, England, before playing in the bands of Tony Crombie and Ted Heath.[3][4] After touring in Europe with Stan Kenton,[4] he played in Cyprus with Tony Kinsey.[3] He was a member of Woody Herman's Anglo American Herd in 1959.[3] During the late 1950s and early 1960s he led bands, including one with Ian Carr that lasted until 1969, one with Barbara Thompson in the 1970s, and as the sole leader in the 1980s and 1990s.[3] In particular, the Rendell-Carr Quintet gained an international reputation. It performed at the Antibes Festival, France and was the Band of the Year for three years in succession in the Melody Maker poll.[2] He performed in festivals in England and France and worked with Johnny Dankworth, Michael Garrick, and Brian Priestley.[3]

Rendell taught at the Royal Academy of Music for three years in the early 1970s. In 1976, his group called the Don Rendell Five which featured saxophonist Barbara Thompson issued Just Music on Spotlite, showcasing Thompson. The group began touring and playing festivals while winning acclaim at home for their style of post-bop music. Rendell kept his session work up, appearing on the 1976 album A Lover and His Lass by Cleo Laine & the Johnny Dankworth Seven. Two years later, in 1978, he issued a double-A-side 12" single with the Don Rendell Five which again included Barbara Thompson as a member of "Roundabouts and Swings" b/w "Blues for Adolphe Sax." In 1979 the saxist issued his Ambitious live nonet project, Earth Music, performed at that year's Greenwich Festival. While it resonated with older fans, it became lost with the British music press's attention to the punk and post-punk music of this period.

In 1984 he began tuition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.[3] He also wrote instruction books on flute and saxophone.[3] His private pupils included the actor Warren Mitchell, an amateur saxophonist.[2]

Personal life and Death[edit]

A Jehovah's Witness convert in 1956, Rendell said his new outlook meant he felt like an ordinary person for the first time in many years.[2] Rendell died at the age of 89 on 20 October 2015 in London after a short illness.[5] He is survived by his wife, Joan (nee Yoxall), whom he married in 1948, his daughter, Sally, his sister, Doris, and three grandchildren.


As leader[edit]

  • Meet Don Rendell (Tempo, 1955)
  • Playtime (Decca, 1958)
  • Roarin' (Jazzland, 1961)
  • Shades of Blue with Ian Carr (Columbia, 1965)
  • Dusk Fire with Ian Carr (Columbia, 1966)
  • Phase III with Ian Carr (Columbia, 1968)
  • Change Is with Ian Carr (Columbia, 1969)
  • Live with Ian Carr (Columbia, 1969)
  • Greek Variations & Other Aegean Exercises with Ian Carr, Neil Ardley (Columbia, 1970)
  • Space Walk (Columbia, 1972)
  • Live at the Avgarde Gallery Manchester with Joe Palin (Spotlite, 1975)
  • Just Music with Barbara Thompson (Spotlite, 1976)
  • Earth Music (Spotlite, 1979)
  • Time Presence (DR, 1988)
  • If I Should Lose You (Spotlite, 1992)
  • What Am I Here For? (Spotlite, 1996)
  • Live in London with Ian Carr (Harkit, 2003)
  • Phase III/Live with Ian Carr (BGO, 2004)
  • Touch Links of Gold & A Portuguese Portrait (Spotlite, 2004)
  • Original 1964-68 Recordings/Live from the Antibes Jazz Festival with Ian Carr (Spotlite, 2007)
  • Live at the Union 1966 with Ian Carr (Reel Recordings, 2010)
  • Live at Klooks Kleek (Record Collector Magazine, 2017)

As sideman[edit]

With Johnny Dankworth

  • Lifeline (Philips, 1973)
  • Movies 'n' Me (RCA, 1974)
  • A Lover and His Lass with Cleo Laine (Esquire, 1976)

With Michael Garrick

  • A Jazz Cantata (Erase, 1969)
  • Black Marigolds (Argo, 1966)
  • The Heart Is a Lotus (Argo, 1970)
  • Mr. Smith's Apocalypse (Argo, 1971)
  • Home Stretch Blues (Argo, 1972)
  • Troppo (Argo, 1974)
  • Parting Is Such (Jazz Academy, 1995)
  • Prelude to Heart Is a Lotus (Gearbox, 2013)

With others

  • Neil Ardley, A Symphony of Amaranths (Regal Zonophone, 1972)
  • Neil Ardley, On the Radio: BBC Sessions 1971 (Dusk Fire, 2017)
  • Amancio D'Silva, Integration (Columbia, 1969)
  • Amancio D'Silva, Konkan Dance (Vocalion, 2006)
  • Kenny Graham, Presenting Kenny Graham (Vocalion, 2008)
  • Joe Harriott, Genius (Jazz Academy, 2000)
  • Ted Heath, Our Kind of Jazz (Decca, 1959)
  • Richard Hewson, Love Is... (Splash, 1978)
  • Jutta Hipp, Leonard Feather Presents Cool Europe (Verve, 1994)
  • Brian Priestley, Love You Gladly (Cadillac, 1988)
  • Cyril Stapleton, All Time Big Band Hits (Richmond, 1959)
  • Stan Tracey, The Latin-American Caper (Columbia, 1969)
  • Stan Tracey, We Love You Madly (Columbia, 1969)
  • Guy Warren, Afro-Jazz (Columbia, 1969)


  1. ^ a b c Vacher, Peter (29 October 2015). "Don Rendell". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Don Rendell, saxophonist - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gilbert, Mark (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. 3 (2 ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries. p. 400. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  4. ^ a b c Jurek, Thom. "Don Rendell". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. ^ Stephen Graham. "RIP Don Rendell".

External links[edit]