Listen to this track by British folk-jazz super-group that included Bert Jansch, John Renbourne, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson, and Terry Cox; Pentangle. It’s “Light Flight” a single from their celebrated 1969 album Basket of Light.
Along with Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, and Steeleye Span, Pentangle was a key group in the emerging British folk-rock sound by the end of the 1960s. However, it has been pointed out by critics, fans, and even band members, that jazz had far more to do with their sound than rock ever did.
This idea is certainly evident in this tune, with shifting time signatures being pretty far away from the rock backbeat, and more in line with the polyrhythmic nature of modern jazz. In this song, all of the instruments drive the rhythm, including McShee’s vocals in this folk tale (actually an original by McShee) that served as a single, reaching a modest #43 in the UK charts in 1970, and serving as the theme song for British series Take Three Girls.
But, where jazz chops certainly informed this piece, particularly from Thompson and Cox who came out of that musical stream, one of the more interesting things about it has to do with the nature and structure of the traditional British folk music that inspired the band’s sound in equal measure. Read more