Exposé Online banner

S.O.S. — Looking for the Next One
(Cuneiform Rune 360/361, 1975/2013, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-06-24

Looking for the Next One Cover artFormed in April 1974 by British jazz giants John Surman, Mike Osborne and Alan Skidmore, the unique thing about this ensemble is that all three members are primarily woodwind players. Osborne is an alto sax player, doubling on percussion; Skidmore plays tenor and soprano sax and doubles on drums; Surman plays soprano and baritone sax, bass clarinet, keyboards and synthesizer. No guitars of any kind here. Working with composed material and plenty of space for improvisation, the group made a single self-titled album on the Ogun label sometime in 1975 (reissued on CD in 2006). With Looking for the Next One, Cuneiform has released the ultimate set of supplemental material that connects many of the dots during the band's short three year existence. The first disc of this set is studio material recorded in '74, well before the LP's release, as well as some studio recordings from late '75, including several that could have been for a second album that never was to be. If you want to hear what a complete track with three saxes and no other instruments can do, "Rashied" – a track written by Rashied Ali, is exhibit A. On these 1974 tracks one can hear themes that would later find their way into the material for the studio LP, whereas on the later studio cuts from September '75, we hear the evolution of the band-composed "Country Dance" and some new directions that the trio was going, like "Q.E.Hall" and a sax arrangement of the traditional "Mountain Road," both with drummer Tony Levin sitting in. Most of the band's material is arranged for two woodwinds and one other instrument, which is usually – but not always Surman's piano or synths. The real gem here is the second disc, a 66 minute live set recorded at the Balver Hoehle jazz festival in July '74. The performance consists of two extended arrangements that contain several of the cuts that would end up on the studio record: "Country Dance," "Where’s Junior?" and "Cycle Motion" are parts of lengthy suite titled "Up There," while "Goliath" and "1st" are parts of a longer arrangement simply titled "Suite." Mastered by Mike King, there is a detailed history of the band in the booklet by Bill Shoemaker, as well as rare photos and press clips that make this set a must-have archival set for anyone interested in the British jazz scene of the 1970s.

Filed under: Archives, 2013 releases, 1975 recordings

Related artist(s): John Surman, S.O.S., Alan Skidmore

Latest news

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

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Light - The Story of Moses – This album sprouts directly from the treasure trove of Dutch prog rock, although it took a Spanish label to finally release it on CD. The music is inspired by the great classic composer Bach, but in...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues