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Monday, June 18, 2012

John Surman - Saltash Bells (ECM, 2012) ***½

By Stef   

As a kid I was addicted to ECM, its great art work, its fantastic musicians, its high quality productions and its polished meditative romantic styles. Next to Keith Jarrett and John Abercrombie and Jan Garbarek, John Surman was one of my favorite musicians, with "Edge Of Illusion" on "Upon Reflection" (1979) one of my favorite tracks, a great solo piece with overdubs of synth loops, several saxes and a great mix of jazz, folk and classical music (Bach).

Now, with Saltash Bells, thirty-three years later, we get a kind of further exploration of his solo album, with overdubs again, mixing folk tunes with jazz and synthesizer.

Surman is a great sax-player, and I can easily recommend him on many albums (his own, with Anouar Brahem, with Jack DeJohnette, Paul Bley or John Taylor), but to my feeling this album adds nothing musically, and the tone is at times rather mellow and sweet (or even too mellow and too sweet, as on "Winter Elegy").

And yet, the quality is good, some tunes are extremely beautiful, and joyful as only folk music can be, and Surman's tone on sax is quite special. Nice for fans, not essential for the others.

© stef


Pascal GEORGES said...

Tu chroniques John Surman et en ce moment je travaille à un long article sur cet artiste - le hasard fait bien les choses.
John Surman reste un artiste que je suis depuis "Upon Reflexions", ce n'est pas d'hier...
Ce nouvel album est, bien sur, la digne suite de sa carrière passionnante et comme toujours, un formidable moment de musique libre totalement contrôlée...

Stef said...

Les grands esprits se trouvent toujours ... :-)