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...

418

John Surman / Howard Moody: Rain On The Window

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
With John Surman's Brewster's Rooster (ECM, 2009) refocusing attention on the British saxophonist/bass clarinetist's jazzier proclivities, it's a good time to assess Rain On The Window—not yet out in North America, but available in Europe since the spring of 2008. A duet recording that picks up, to some extent, where Proverbs and Songs (ECM, 1997) left off, this time it's Howard Moody on church organ, rather than Surman's longtime British cohort, John Taylor.



But there's more to it than just a change in musical partners. Within the duo context, Surman and Moody bring greater spontaneity to the table, contrasting Proverbs and Songs' more structured environs, where Surman's commission was scored for church organ, choir, and solo speaker. Moody conducted the choir on that 1996 BBC recording, but it was his substituting for Taylor on a number the project's live performances that ultimately led to this strictly duo session, recorded in Oslo, Norway's resonant Ullern Kirke.



Moody had, in fact, largely given up playing organ, frustrated by the inherent traditionalism associated with the instrument; but, as Surman relates in a 2009 interview, ..."you're not going to get any of those problems with me." On this collection of ten originals (all by Surman with the exception of Moody's dark-hued solo feature, "Tierce"), three spontaneous compositions, and two rearranged traditional tunes, Surman and Moody can't escape a certain spirituality, but equally they bend and, in some cases, completely break with any preconception as to how a church organ-based recital should be.



It's hard to escape the conventional image of a powerful church organ. Still, Surman and Moody's remarkably structured-in-nature yet effortlessly unpredictable collective improvisations go to darker, more dissonant places than are likely to be heard from the church hymnal. The aptly titled "Dark Reeds" builds from nothing, Surman's pure and somehow vulnerable tone on baritone creating memorable melodies both driven and contextualized by Moody's sensitive attention to harmony and timbre. Two versions of Surman's "Circum" open the disc, and then, halfway through, act to refocus the disc's narrative. Pensive and inward-looking, both Surman and Moody soar over its cascading changes, entering into the kind of improvisational trade-off, towards the end of "Circum I," that may find inspiration in jazz world, but is otherwise completely distanced from its tradition—redolent of its spirit, rather than the letter.



Two traditional tunes bring greater song-form lyricism. "O Waly Waly" is better known as the ultimately optimistic "The Water is Wide," while on "I'm Troubled In Mind," Surman and Moody create a melancholy yet strangely uplifting instrumental from words originally sung by slaves whipped by their masters.



Nearly 65, the now Oslo-based Surman continues to move orthodoxy out of its comfort zone. Profoundly beautiful, with intuitive interaction normally associated with jazz, Rain On The Window presents improvisation of another kind; one rooted in the spiritual tradition of church music, but taken to new places, thanks to the persistent refusal of both Surman and Moody to stick with the status quo.



Visit John Surman and Howard Moody on the web.

Track Listing: Circum I; Stained Glass; The Old Dutch; Dancing In The Loft; Step Lively; Stone Ground; Tierce; Circum II; Rain On The Window; Dark Reeds; O Waly Waly; A Spring Wedding; I'm Troubled In Mind; On The Go; Pax Vobiscum.

Personnel: John Surman: baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Howard Moody: organ.

Title: Rain On The Window | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019