COMPOSERS: John Surman
WORKS: A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe
PERFORMER: Surman (a-clt, b-clt, ss, bar-s, kybds)
CATALOGUE NO: 523 749-2
Like a growing number of European players – fellow-saxophonists Jan Garbarek and Paul Dunmall spring immediately to mind – John Surman has succeeded in developing an utterly distinctive sound in which indigenous folk forms are energised by the improvisatory spirit of jazz to stunning effect.
Surman’s solo ECM recordings typically set his keening, plangent soprano or his richly melancholic bass clarinet against either a repeated keyboard figure or a wash of synthesized sound to produce precisely articulated, pure-toned music of great beauty.
Like Garbarek’s, Surman’s almost reverential approach is perfectly suited to the peerless production values of ECM, and his solo music can sound almost New Age-like on first acquaintance, but both the jazz-derived vigour of the playing and the brooding, melancholic wistfulness with which it is infused mark the album out as containing genuinely affecting, meditative music of the first order. Chris Parker