Roots by Vincent Van Gogh

Many years ago now there was a regular light entertainment program on the radio. It included a series of comedy sketches, one of which purported to answer listeners’ questions on just about any subject relevant to contemporary living. There might be questions on important issues in art or politics, for example, or mundane questions about everyday life. But, whatever the topic, one of the panellists would always start his reply with, “Well, I think the answer lies in the soil …”, leaving the listener wondering what on earth that has to do with the matter in hand.

And, on that agricultural note, let’s get back to what this blog is all about, back to the early seventies and back to the origins of the jazz/rock genre with Ian Carr’s Nucleus. Here’s a 1972 video by way of introduction to the band:

Fans of Soft Machine will recognise the second tune (Hazard Profile) and at least some of the musicians in that video. Crotchety Man spotted Roy Babbington and Karl Jenkins immediately; Dave MacRae on keyboards and Ian Carr himself on trumpet were not so familiar. A couple of entries in the video comments say that the drummer is Alan Jackson but I can’t verify that.

A year after that video was made Nucleus recorded the Roots album. Personnel this time were: Ian Carr (trumpet), Brian Smith (saxes and flute), Joy Yates (vocals), Jocelyn Pitchen (guitar), Dave MacRae (keyboards), Roger Sutton (bass guitar), Clive Thacker (drums) and Aureo de Souza (percussion). The Soft Machine connection had been severed and the band was finding its own distinctive sound.

I think we can safely describe this as jazz, albeit with faded Canterbury flavour rock influences. It has strong echoes of Neil Ardley’s A Kaleidoscope of Rainbows, too – hardly surprising, perhaps, as the permanent members of Nucleus all contributed to that sonic kaleidoscope a few years later. And, like AKoR, Roots has aged extremely well. So much so that it is due to be reissued (on vinyl at least) on 22nd October 2021. In the meantime, where can you find Roots? Well, I think the answer lies in the soil …


That radio programme was called Beyond Our Ken and most episodes are available here on Spotify.

One thought on “Roots

  1. I vaguely remember Nucleus but this sounds right up my street. Funnily and co-incidentally enough, I just opened your post whilst relaxing to Soft Machine. I bought ‘..The Snow Goose’ album on vinyl from a charity shop for £10. What a bargain. It’s in first class condition.

    Liked by 1 person

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