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...

425

John Surman: The Spaces in Between

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
One challenge facing many musicians is the documentation of widespread musical interests. More often than not, artists engage in projects that are heard in performance, perhaps on a radio broadcast, but then never again. Sometimes ongoing projects are documented, but only once, as is the case with British woodwind multi-instrumentalist John Surman's superb Stranger Than Fiction (ECM, 1994)—the only commercial recording featuring his longstanding quartet of pianist John Taylor, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer John Marshall.

Making it good news that Surman's bass with string quartet project, first heard on the sublime Corruscating (ECM, 1999), now has a follow-up, albeit seven years later. The Spaces in Between, featuring Laurence and the Trans4mation string quartet, is a logical evolution that finds the line between detailed composition becoming, at times, blurred in ways that simply weren't possible in the project's earlier days.

The Spaces in Between is an even more egalitarian effort than its predecessor, with its eight-minute title track a solo feature for violinist Rita Manning. It's also a title that's not just appropriate for the piece, where silence plays equal partner to Manning's evocative performance, but for the label, where transparency in the recording process has always afforded every note its full measure

It's also the album's centerpiece, towards which all paths converge and from which many roads follow. "Moonlighter" opens the set, a brooding tone poem where Laurence improvises over the string quartet's languid changes before Surman enters, with the unmistakable mellifluousness of his baritone almost antithetical to its normally gruff tone. Without Laurence it might rest too far in the ethereal, but the bassist provides a gentle pulse that leads the music towards a self-devised nexus where form and freedom meet.

Surman's arrangements for the ensemble also create a sound often larger than its mere six pieces while never losing a chamber group intimacy. The strings act as emphatics around his bass clarinet on "You Never Know," but also become contrapuntal equals as the piece progresses. The strings create a gentle turbulence beneath Laurence and Surman's theme at the start of "Wayfarer's All," but shift towards a more pastoral ambience beneath Surman's lyrical soprano solo.

Two tracks originally written for other projects demonstrate how adaptable and malleable any music can be with the right leader at the helm. The Middle Eastern tone of "Mimosa" is no surprise, a tune written (but never recorded) for Thimar— Surman's 1998 ECM collaboration with bassist Dave Holland and Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem. The gliding strings, played with nuanced dynamics, feel completely authentic. Surman also revisits the title track to the largely free jazz Where Fortune Smiles (Dawn, 1970), transforming it into a melodic and eminently accessible thing of beauty.

The Spaces in Between is another milestone for Surman, who records all too infrequently but consistently finds new ways to expand musical boundaries each and every time.


Track Listing: Moonlighter; You Never Know; Wayfarers All; Now and Again; Winter Wish; The Spaces in Between; New See!; Mimosa; Hubbub; Where Fortune Smiles; Leaving the Harrow.

Personnel: John Surman: baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Chris Laurence: double-bass; Trans4mation: Rita Manning: violin, violin solo (6); Patrick Kiernan: violin; Bill Hawkes: viola; Nick Cooper: cello.

Title: The Spaces In Between | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
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 Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Disaster Relief" CD/LP/Track Review Disaster Relief
by Paul Naser
Published: July 2, 2018
Read "Harry Vetro's Northern Ranger" CD/LP/Track Review Harry Vetro's Northern Ranger
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 5, 2018
Read "Summerwind" CD/LP/Track Review Summerwind
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "9" CD/LP/Track Review 9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Dissection Room" CD/LP/Track Review Dissection Room
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 27, 2018
Read "Od Ponedelnik" CD/LP/Track Review Od Ponedelnik
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2018