If - If 5 Album Review

No ifs, no buts – the British prog jazz pioneers are back.

IF 5 album artwork

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When prog was gestating in the late 60s, jazz was as important as psych in expanding rock’s horizons beyond the basic forms.

Saxophonists Dick Morrissey and Dave Quincy and guitarist Terry Smith – all of whom had met in soul singer JJ Jackson’s band – formed If in 1969, and conjured their multi-hued sound over four numbered albums of progressive UK jazz rock, before dissolving into a second lineup in 1972 (that included Dave Greenslade).

Morrissey died in 2000, but Quincy and Smith have formed a new If, bringing in keyboard player Guy Gardner, bassist Ben Taylor, drummer Rod Brown and singer Dave Browne. Given that If 4 came out 44 years ago, the title of their return effort is pleasingly cheeky.

On it they present a contagious set which matches new outings such as Groove Sauce and Gonna Give It Up with a sumptuous remake of Quincy’s prog-presaging I Couldn’t Write And Tell You from 1970’s If 2. The astutely chosen cover versions includes Charlie Parker tribute Yardbird Showed The Way, the Resolution section of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and a hazy late-night vamp through Dick Morrissey and Jim Mullen’s You’ll Know What I Mean; all life-affirming.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!