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John Surman: Manchester, England. June 18, 2012

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John SurmanRNCMManchester Jazz FestivalManchester, EnglandJune 18, 2012As the lights slowly dimmed, a small and rather unremarkable man made his way onto the stage, in front of a table strewn with saxophones and wind instruments. However, as the audience soon discovered, when this man begins to play something utterly remarkable and unique is channeled. The room was charged with a quiet but detectable energy as John Surman began one of his first solo appearances in the UK in a very long time, a definite highlight of this year's Manchester Jazz Festival.The first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Saltash Bells

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There's no denying the “the sound of surprise" of group recordings; working solo, however, provides its own possibilities, despite meaning different things to different people. Pianist Keith Jarrett views it as a means for pulling form from the ether: one man, one piano, in real time. Multi-instrumentalist Stephan Micus, on the other hand, considers it a blank slate where it's one man but a multitude of instruments layered one upon the other, through multi-tracking, over the course of days, months...even years. Reed player John Surman has been creating one-man orchestral works since Westering Home (Island, 1972), but it's been his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: The Rainbow Band Sessions

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It's been nearly two decades since British saxophonist/clarinetist John Surman last did a large ensemble disc, with the exception of Free and Equal (ECM, 2003), which teamed the duo of Surman and drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette with the London Brass ensemble. But the last time Surman did a swinging session beyond a quartet was The Brass Project (ECM, 1993), and that was in collaboration with Canadian expat John Warren, another longtime Surman partner dating as far back as How Many Clouds Can You See? (Vocalion, 1969) and the entirely Warren-penned Tales of the Algonquin (Vocalion, 1971). All of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop - April '69

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In the necessarily modestly expansive booklet note which accompanies this CD and DVD set, Brian Morton sets out the development of jazz in Britain, from its point of origin in the early decades of the twentieth century. He also rightly identifies the musical generation that came of age in the 1960s as having no sense of cultural inferiority, a point which is made most potently on Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop--April '69 in music that reveals a character every bit as identifiable as anything coming at the time. Such is the whim of fate that saxophonist John Surman had to go ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop - April '69

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Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop--April '69 is a stunning discovery. Featuring unreleased material executed by a unique ten-piece line-up of European jazz luminaries, it provides a fascinating window into the development of British saxophonist John Surman at the very beginning of his career. Capturing an international all-star ensemble working through Surman's formative concepts, this informal studio session was taped in Hamburg, Germany for the NDR Jazz Workshop, a weekly television series. Despite being recorded in mono for televised broadcast, the audio and video quality is remarkably good considering the source material. Released by Cuneiform as a double disc set, the CD ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop - April '69

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1969 was a watershed year for John Surman. He released his eponymous debut on Dutton Vocalion that year, but it was the recording session for How Many Clouds Can You See? (Vocalion, 1970), that made the year of Woodstock and man's first steps on the moon so portentous for the 25 year-old saxophonist An album effortlessly joining large and small ensembles--right down to a burning duet with drummer Alan Jackson that alluded to John Coltrane's incendiary pairing with Rashied Ali, but also demonstrated Surman's economy and thematic focus--it became Surman's first true statement as a definitive composer, performer and bandleader. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Brewster's Rooster

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Over 150 years experience! That's how the band saxophonist John Surman assembled for Brewster's Rooster could be advertised. Surman first played with drummer Jack DeJohnette in the late '70s and DeJohnette and guitarist John Abercrombie first worked together earlier that decade. Rounded out by bassist Drew Gress, Surman revisits straight-ahead jazz after essaying an eclectic range of recordings. On “Hilltop Dancer," Surman's tone on baritoneis solid and assured, never tempted by the extremes available on the big horn and Abercrombie's subtle ability to match notes is remarkable. Alternating between pretty melodies rendered on soprano and harder driving baritone burners, Surman's ...



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