Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pentangle is a British folk-rock band. The original band was active in the late 1960s and the 1970s; its successor has been active since the mid-1990s. The original members included Terry Cox drums, Bert Jansch guitar, Jacqui McShee vocals, John Renbourn guitar and Danny Thompson bass.
The original group formed in 1967. Renbourn and Jansch were already popular musicians on the British folk scene, with several solo albums each and a duet LP, Bert And John (they also shared a house in London).
Although nominally a 'folk' group, the members each shared catholic tastes and influences. McShee had a grounding in traditional music, Cox and Thompson a love of jazz, Renbourn a growing interest in early music, and Jansch a taste for blues and contemporaries such as Bob Dylan. Renbourne and McShee had played together as a duo before the formation of the band.
Pentangle's self-titled debut LP was released in May 1968. Around this time the group graduated from clubs to halls, including a memorable night at London's Royal Albert Hall. Recordings from that concert formed part of their second album, Sweet Child (released in November 1968), along with an album of studio recordings. Showcasing the group's eclectic approach (and Jansch's growing songwriting ability), it is generally regarded their creative high point.
Basket Of Light, which followed in mid 1969, was their greatest commercial success, thanks to a surprise hit single, Night Flight which became popular due to its use as theme music for a TV drama series "Take Three Girls" for which the band also provided incidental music .
The following year, in the wake of similar moves by British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, Pentangle released Cruel Sister, an album of traditional songs that included a 20-minute long version of Jack Orion a song that Jansch and Renbourn had recorded previously as a duo.
The band returned to mix of traditional and original material on Reflection (1971), which also broke their informal 'no electric instruments' rule with Renbourn on electric guitar. The similar Commoner's Crown followed in 1972. Early the following year, however, Jansch left.
Pentangle's musical career continued through the 1980s. Personnel changes included Mike Piggott on violin, Nigel Portman Smith on keyboards and bass, and Peter Kirtley on guitars and vocals with McShee and Jansch from the original line-up. Gerry Conway (who had worked with Fotheringay, Cat Stevens, Richard Thompson and John Martyn took over on drums and percussion in 1987.
In 1995, McShee formed a trio with Conway on percussion and Spencer Cozens on keyboards. The trio's first album, About Thyme, featured guests Ralph McTell, Albert Lee, Mike Mainieri, and John Martyn. The album reached the top of fROOTS magazine's British folk chart.
With the addition of saxophonist Jerry Underwood and bassist/guitarist Alan Thompson, the band was renamed Jacqui McShee's Pentangle. The new five-piece band's first album Passe Avante was released on the Park Records label.
The new line-up played regularly on the live circuit. Their concert at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was recorded and released by Park Records under the title At the Little Theatre. The album highlights the improvisational virtuosity of the band and its melding of jazz and folk influences.
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