ALBUM TITLE: John Surman and Friends
PERFORMER: John Surman (ss, bar-s), John McLaughlin (g), Karl Berger (vb), Dave Holland (bs), Stu Martin (d)
CATALOGUE NO: NEE CD 302 (distr. Castle Communications)
This two-CD set combines the albums Where Fortune Smiles and Live at Woodstock Town Hall, recorded in 1971 and 1975 respectively. The former is a neglected classic, recorded at a time when jazz musicians were exploring rock tonalities and rhythms from an aesthetic rather than commercial perspective.
At the time, the British guitarist John McLaughlin had emerged as one of the key figures in this new fusion of genres, making a significant contribution to the music of Miles Davis while indelibly writing himself into the ledger with the Tony Williams Lifetime. But before he had left these shores, he ran a co-operative group with Dave Holland and Surman which led to the album Extrapolation (albeit without Holland), one of the most important, yet neglected albums in British jazz.
Two years later Where Fortune Smiles reunited Surman, Holland and McLaughlin, and along with Berger and Martin, is a continuum of the ideas originally proposed on Extrapolation. Not released until 1975 in the States, the impact of this forward-looking music was lost, never gaining the attention it deserved as one of the finest albums of the period. The second CD, Live at Woodstock Town Hall, is a duo with drummer Martin, and reveals Surman experimenting with synthesized sound, something that has subsequently become a part of his remarkable personality. Stuart Nicholson