Ambleside Days

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: John Taylor
LABELS: Ah Um 013 dist. New Note
WORKS: Lodore Falls, Wandering, Ambleside Days, Scale Force, Coniston Falls, Pathway, Clapperclowe, Dry Stone
PERFORMER: John Surman (sax, cl), John Taylor (p)

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European jazz is always different from American jazz – often a pale imitation. Pianist John Taylor and reedsman John Surman make a virtue of their Britishness, however, and in their latest collaboration, they cast themselves closer to Vaughan Williams than to Mary Lou Williams.

A suite of dramatic, poignant compositions from Taylor has Surman covering the range of reeds from soprano to baritone sax via alto and bass clarinet. Landscapes like ‘Coniston Fells’ are unfolded by Taylor’s flowing lines while Surman soars overhead on soprano or dips gently below on the baritone.

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Entirely pastoral in conception, the compositions still allow openings for Surman’s characteristically vigorous improvisations. He is one of Taylor’s longtime associates, and shows himself at home in this sometimes difficult country, making light work of the many tight changes Taylor calls for. Garry Booth