Exposé Online banner

John Surman — Way Back When
(Cuneiform Rune 200, 1969/2005, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01

Way Back When Cover artJohn Surman (saxes), John Marshall (drums), John Taylor (electric piano), Brian Odgers (bass guitar). For many readers, that list alone puts this on the must-have list. Throw in the recording date of fall 1969, and the mind starts calculating. Think of early Nucleus, think of electric Miles, think of the possibilities. This outstanding recording meets and exceeds those possibilities, being a crystal clear slice of history, when jazz and rock were first starting to come together. And while the sessions were an informal affair between a few musical friends, the result is top-notch, live and spontaneous and grooving as all get-out. Aside from a few test pressings, this material never saw the light of day until the master tapes, thought long lost, were unexpectedly rediscovered in 2003, so this has to be one of the most extraordinary rarities. The sound is amazingly pristine. Surman's playing is masterful, expressive and melodic at times and wildly intense at others, imaginative and fluid. John Marshall is, well, John Marshall, one of England's finest jazz drummers. Odgers is very good here, and while much of his resume is in rock and pop, he was in John McLaughlin's Extrapolation band with Surman. Taylor is on fire at the keyboard, bringing out the peculiar tones of the electric piano and excellent on both his solos and his backing of the others. This is one forgotten gem that we are fortunate to have available, surely one of the best reissues of recent years.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases, 1969 recordings

Related artist(s): John Surman

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Anubian Lights - The Eternal Sky – Cleopatra has been surprising of late with their output; the Space Daze compilation and Spiral Realms releases were both pleasant surprises. Anubian Lights is another solid release. The group is...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues