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Biography

If was Great Britain's contribution to the jazz-rock movement begun and popularized in the late '60s/early '70s by Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago. Formed in 1969 by Melody Maker jazz poll winners Dave Quincy, Dick Morrissey, and Terry Smith, the band never found popular success in the United States. However, If produced several albums noteworthy for placing jazz players in a pop/rock band context and producing a true fusion of the two genres without diluting the players' improvisational skills. Unlike most of their horn-band contemporaries, If had no brass players in the band, relying solely on the saxophones of Dick Morrissey and the flute and saxophones of Dave Quincy. But what really gave If its unique sound were the vocals of J.W. Hodgkinson and the guitar of Terry Smith. Hodgkinson's vocal timbre was unusual -- smooth, flexible, and strong in the high end, sounding like no other vocalist. Smith's trebly guitar sound was also unique, combining a rocker's use of sustain with the jazz fluency of Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. The original incarnation of If produced five excellent albums between 1970 and 1972, but these albums failed to find an audience. Morrissey soldiered on with the If name for two more albums with a totally different lineup and a more generic rock-type sound, but these, too, went nowhere. Drummer Dennis Elliott was later a member of the platinum-selling rock band Foreigner. ~ Jim Newsom
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