All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

157

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

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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 Richard 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.

The Coltrane connection can also be heard on "Mayflower," the burning modal opener to Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop—April '69, a golden find of a German television performance, rescued from obscurity by Cuneiform Records and released as a double-disc set with both an audio CD and DVD of the same five-track set. Surman's soprano solo is an incendiary combination of visceral trills and screams, but even its greatest extremes reflect the underlying pastoral melodism that distinguished Surman, even at this relatively early stage in his career. With a ten-piece ensemble culled from the cream of the late-'60s British jazz crop along with a couple of lesser-known Germans, Surman's recruitment of Kenny Wheeler makes Flashpoint an even greater find, standing significantly alongside BGO Records' rescue of the trumpeter's criminally out-of-print debut as a leader, Windmill Tilter (Fontana, 1969) . Wheeler's flugelhorn solo on the change-heavy, waltz-time "Once Upon a Time" demonstrates everything that has made Wheeler a quiet legend, in particular his melancholy-drenched lyricism, tinged with unexpected leaps into the stratosphere with almost unparalleled control and precision.

The set list may be identical on the CD and DVD, but the black and white video stretches out another five minutes, Surman's between-song discussion with his band mates revealing the saxophonist as a focused but relaxed and warm—and occasionally boisterously funny—bandleader. There's also a brief, of-its-time moment when the camera focuses on saxophonists Mike Osborne and Ronnie Scott, lighting up cigarettes while Surman discusses "The Puzzle" with its composer, trombonist Erich Kleinschuster, who's featured alongside trombonist Malcolm Griffiths on this bright and brass-heavy track. But it's the music and the combined solo firepower of Surman's band that make Flashpoint such a treasure, despite its relatively brevity at just over forty minutes. Tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore's solo on "Once Upon a Time" rivals Surman for potency and subconscious compositional intent, while the leader's closing baritone solo on the title track—a combination of expressionistic free play and frenetic swing that also features a fiery solo from Osborne—brings the show to a powerful close.

Surman continued to explode creatively in the next year, moving into electric territory with another Cuneiform rescue, 1969's Way Back When (2005) and the formation of freewheeling The Trio, with bassist Barre Phillips and drummer Stu Martin. Flashpoint adds further detail to the picture of Surman's early years, where a myriad of promises emerged concurrently, to ultimately merge into one of jazz's most distinctive voices on the big and little horns.

Track Listing: Mayflower; Once Upon a Time; Puzzle; Gratuliere; Flashpoint.

Personnel: John Surman: soprano and baritone saxophones; Alan Skidmore: tenor saxophone, flute; Ronnie Scott: tenor saxophone; Mike Osborne: alto saxophone; Malcolm Griffiths: trombone; Erich Kleinschuster: trombone; Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn; Fritz Pauer: piano; Harry Miller: bass; Alan Jackson: drums.

Title: Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop - April '69 | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Invisible Threads

Invisible Threads

ECM Records
2018

buy
Westering Home

Westering Home

Fledg'ling Records
2016

buy
Morning Glory

Morning Glory

Fledg'ling Records
2016

buy
Looking for the Next One

Looking for the Next...

Cuneiform Records
2013

buy
Saltash Bells

Saltash Bells

ECM Records
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Humanities CD/LP/Track Review
Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Wild Is The Wind CD/LP/Track Review
Wild Is The Wind
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review
Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "I Speilvendthet" CD/LP/Track Review I Speilvendthet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Harmonies" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonies
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Flux Reflux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Earthshine" CD/LP/Track Review Earthshine
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 28, 2017
Read "Lucus" CD/LP/Track Review Lucus
by Don Phipps
Published: January 25, 2018
Read "Groove Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017