top of page


This website was originally devised as a tribute to the genius of Ian Carr and his colleagues in Nucleus and launched in November 2002. This is its third iteration, launched in 2021. It is an unofficial fan site and has no formal connection with the Ian Carr Trust.

Ian Carr - An Introduction 

Born in Dumfries, Scotland on 21 April 1933, Ian Carr grew up in South Shields and County Durham. He began his English Literature degree at the University of Newcastle in 1952 (then known as King’s College, part of Durham University). He played trumpet in bands during his time at university but tellingly, he played modern jazz there, a break with the more popular traditionalists at that time and a pointer towards his future modus operandi as a true innovator in jazz.

But his professional career began playing in his home town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where he joined his brother Mike's modern jazz group, the EmCee Five which ran successfully from the late 1950s until the early 1960s. He then co-led the innovative modern British jazz group the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet which released 5 albums on EMI Columbia's "Lansdowne Series" label. The Rendell-Carr Quintet is regarded by many as one of the most influential, important and original modern British jazz groups ever. After the break-up of the Rendell-Carr Quintet, which also featured pianist Michael Garrick, Ian Carr went on to form the iconoclastic jazz-rock group Nucleus, which represented the United Kingdom at the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival and won the award for top group that year. They also played the Newport Jazz Festival in the USA on the strength of Montreux.

They released 12 albums either under the Nucleus or Ian Carr name between 1970 and 1980 and toured extensively worldwide. Carr wrote all the music for three of these albums ("Solar Plexus", "Labyrinth" and "Old Heartland" of which the first two received bursaries from the Arts Council of Great Britain) and he wrote 8 of the 9 tracks on "Out of the Long Dark". He also made significant contributions to the recordings of compositions by jazz composer Neil Ardley on the albums, "A Kaleidoscope of Rainbows" (with Nucleus), "Harmony of the Spheres" and "Zyklus" and to jazz composer and pianist Keith Tippett’s jazz orchestra Centipede on the album "Septober Energy". He was also a founder member of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble big band which made over 10 albums between 1977 and 1999 and which continued to perform until 2002, in which year it gave a series of farewell concerts.

As an author he wrote several critically acclaimed books on jazz including "Music Outside" (1973) which was republished as a 2nd edition in January 2008; the authorised biography of Miles Davis, "Miles Davis: A Critical Biography" (1982) which includes a third revised edition (1998). This is considered by many to be the definitive biography of Miles Davis. He also wrote "Keith Jarrett, The Man and his Music" (1992) and was co-author of "Jazz, the Essential Companion" (1987) and "The Rough Guide to Jazz" (3rd edition, 2004).

As a broadcaster he made many appearances on BBC Radio 3 including introducing a six part Jazz File series on Miles Davis in 2001. He was Programme Consultant for Mike Dibb's two-part Channel 4 television documentary "The Miles Davis Story", screened in April 2001. This attracted a record television audience for jazz of 1.2 million viewers. Similarly, he was consultant on Mike Dibb's documentary "Keith Jarrett - The Art Of Improvisation", screened on Channel 4 in December 2004.

He was also an inspiring teacher and Associate Professor of Jazz at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also taught at the Weekend Arts College for groups of young jazz musicians in North London and many of today’s jazz stars, such as pianist Julian Joseph and vocalist Cleveland Watkiss (both of whom performed at a tribute concert for Carr held at the Guildhall School of Music in November 2006) were inspired by him for his boundless enthusiasm and encouragement. In May 2001, Ian Carr joined his old partner Don Rendell for a reunion concert playing to a packed foyer audience at the Royal Festival Hall, in one of several concerts celebrating 50 years of the South Bank.

The trumpeter, composer and author Ian Carr was one of the United Kingdom’s most important figures in contemporary jazz music. As a musician, his contribution to jazz was exceptional and his musical legacy remains a huge influence on generations of musicians and audiences who often have been drawn to the many layers of jazz through an initial interest in Ian Carr’s music. His performances and recording work with his first major group, the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet in the 1960s made him a legendary figure. However, it was his later group Nucleus which was responsible for spearheading a huge revival in modern jazz music in the 1970s. For the full background of Ian’s eventful life read Alyn Shipton’s biography Out Of The Long Dark – The Life Of Ian Carr (Equinox, 2006). Ian Carr passed away on Wednesday 25 February 2009, aged 75. However, his legend, his music and his indomitable spirit live on...

bottom of page