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

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Elka Atanasova - Winds of the Rhodopes – Back in the early nineties, when the Bulgarian Women's Choir was making the rounds, a diminutive but fire-breathing 19-year-old violinist from the same country released this promising debut work. How...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues