John Surman — Way Back When
(Cuneiform Rune 200, 1969/2005, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01John 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.
Related artist(s): John Surman
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more