Ian Carr

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Ian Carr
Birth nameIan Henry Randall Carr
Born(1933-04-21)21 April 1933
Dumfries, Scotland
Died25 February 2009(2009-02-25) (aged 75)
GenresJazz, jazz fusion
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, writer, educator

Ian Carr (21 April 1933[1] – 25 February 2009)[2] was a Scottish jazz musician, composer, writer, and educator. Carr performed and recorded with the Rendell-Carr quintet and jazz-fusion band Nucleus, and was an associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He also wrote biographies of musicians Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis.

Early years[edit]

Ian Henry Randall Carr was born in Dumfries, Scotland, the elder brother of Mike Carr.[1] From 1952 to 1956, Carr attended King's College, now Newcastle University, where he read English Literature,[2] followed by a diploma in education.

Musical career[edit]

At the age of 17, Carr started to teach himself trumpet.[1] After university he joined his brother in a Newcastle band, the EmCee Five, from 1960 to 1962, before moving to London, where he became co-leader with Don Rendell of the Rendell–Carr quintet (1963–69).[1] In its six years, the group (including pianist Michael Garrick, bassist Dave Green, and drummer Trevor Tomkins) made five albums for EMI – all of which have been re-issued – and performed internationally.[1] During the 1960s he also played with the New Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Neil Ardley and recorded an album with altoist Joe Harriott.

After leaving the quintet, Carr went on to form the ground-breaking jazz-rock band Nucleus.[3] This led to the release of 12 albums (some under the band's name, some under Carr's), and a successful international career. In their first year Nucleus won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival, released their first album, Elastic Rock,[1] and performed at both the Newport Jazz Festival[3] and the Village Gate jazz club. Carr also played with the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble from 1975.[1]

Carr worked as a session musician in non-jazz contexts, with Nico, No-Man, Faultline, and others. He also doubled on flugelhorn.

Writing and academic career[edit]

Apart from writing a regular column for the BBC Music Magazine, Carr wrote biographies of the jazz musicians Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis.[3] Carr was also the co-author of the reference work The Rough Guide to Jazz, which has passed through four editions from 1994 (originally Jazz, The Essential Companion, 1988). In addition he contributed sleeve notes for the albums of other musicians (e.g. Indo-Jazz Fusions by Joe Harriott and John Mayer).

In 1987, Carr was appointed associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London,[2] where he taught composition and performance, especially improvisation. He was founder of the jazz workshop at the Interchange arts scheme, where pianist Julian Joseph, among others, was one of his students.


Ian Carr died aged 75 on 25 February 2009, having suffered from Alzheimer's disease. A memorial service was held at Golders Green Crematorium in London the following month. In addition to fellow Nucleus member Geoff Castle, speakers at the service included artist Gerald Laing, author, critic and broadcaster Alyn Shipton, Mike Dibb (with whom Carr collaborated on two films on Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett)[4] and Carr's students Julian Joseph, Sara Dillon and Nikki Yeoh.


Emcee Five[edit]

  • 1961: Let's Take Five
  • 1962: Bebop from the East Coast

Rendell–Carr Quintet[edit]

  • 1964: Shades of Blue
  • 1965: Live in London
  • 1966: Dusk Fire
  • 1966: Live at the Union
  • 1968: Live from the Antibes Jazz Festival (plus 1964 recordings by the Don Rendell Four and Five)
  • 1968: Phase III
  • 1969: Change Is
  • 1969: "Live"

with the New Jazz Orchestra[edit]

  • 1965: Western Reunion
  • 1966: Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe

with the Joe Harriott / Amancio D'Silva Quartet[edit]

  • 1969: Hum-Dono


  • 1969: Springboard (recorded in 1966)


  • 1970: Elastic Rock
  • 1971: We'll Talk about It Later
  • 1971: Solar Plexus (released as a "Ian Carr with Nucleus" album)
  • 1973: Labyrinth (released as a "Ian Carr with Nucleus" album)
  • 1973: Roots (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 1974: Under the Sun
  • 1975: Snakehips Etcetera
  • 1975: Alleycat
  • 1976: Direct Hits (compilation) (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 1977: In Flagranti Delicto (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 1979: Out of the Long Dark (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 1980: Awakening (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 1985: Live at the Theaterhaus (released as a "Ian Carr's Nucleus" album)
  • 2003: Live in Bremen (recorded 1971)
  • 2003: The Pretty Redhead (recorded 1971 and 1982)
  • 2006: Hemispheres (recorded live 1970 & 1971)
  • 2006: UK Tour '76 (recorded live in 1976 at Loughborough University)
  • 2009: Live in Europe 1970-71 (recorded live 1970 & 1971)
  • 2014: Nucleus With Leon Thomas - Live 1970 (recorded live Montreux Jazz Festival)
  • 2015: Three of a Kind (three archive recordings from the 1970s and 1980s)


  • 1973:Mike Taylor Remembered, a tribute to Mike Taylor with Jon Hiseman, Ian Carr, Barbara Thompson, and others. (released 2007)


  • 1972: Belladonna
  • 1989: Old Heartland

with Don Rendell[edit]

  • 2001: Reunion

As co-leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

with George Russell's Living Time Orchestra[edit]


  • 1982: Miles Davis (Quartet / William Morrow & Co.) ISBN 0-704-32273-0 / ISBN 0-688-01321-X
  • 1988: Jazz: The Essential Companion with Digby Fairweather & Brian Priestley (Paladin Books) ISBN 0-586-08530-0
  • 1991: Keith Jarrett: The Man and His Music (Grafton Books) ISBN 0-246-13434-8
  • 1999: Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography (Thunder's Mouth Press) ISBN 1-56025-241-3
  • 2004: The Rough Guide to Jazz with Digby Fairweather & Brian Priestley (3rd edn) Rough Guides Limited. ISBN 1-84353-256-5
  • 2008: Music Outside: Contemporary Jazz in Britain, 2nd edn., with new postscript and photographs (London: Northway Publications). ISBN 978-0-9550908-6-8 (1st edn published 1973 by Latimer New Dimensions. ISBN 0-901539-25-2).



  • Roger Farbey, Elastic Dream: The Music of Ian Carr – A Critical Discography, 2nd Revised Edition, 2015.
  • Roger Farbey, The Music of Ian Carr – A Critical Discography, 2010.
  • Alyn Shipton, Out of the Long Dark: The Life of Ian Carr, 2006

External links[edit]