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Bebop Spoken There

Dayna Stephens: "I always tell them [students] there will never be anyone who will play it [EWI] as technically proficient as this cat [Michael Brecker] did." - (JazzTimes June 2019).

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Today Tuesday June 25

Afternoon

Jazz

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Jam Session - Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre, 59 Westgate Rd., Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel. 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. Free. Trio Alan Law, Paul Grainger, John Bradford.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, September 03, 2012

CD Review: John Surman – Saltash Bells (ECM 279 8108)


John Surman (various instruments.)
(Review by Wes.)
It has certainly been a great pleasure for me to have spent the last few weeks giving repeated listening to one of the new ECM recordings that is Saltash Bells by John Surman. I would however say that it is certainly one that presses the inevitable question of how well can you actually put into words a series of such spacious and free spirited musical compositions, for indeed music surely is it’s own language.
Within the pieces contained on this record I can find reference points and use written language but by no means can or will I get close to the truth and expression of the thing, the music itself.
The more I listen to the contemporary output of ECM the more I feel that the idea of Jazz music is progressing, regressing, pushing and pulling to such an extent it remains actually true to only one thing, and that thing is the artist or artists themselves, regardless of the shape shifting banner it paints itself under, which is “Jazz”. To be fair for a quite a number of years I’ve been struggling in my own mind to reconcile in the contemporary and progressive culture of that word what it means anymore, and the debate I believe will perpetually continue.
An album such as this certainly seems to validate my point.
My initial and remaining feelings from the record is that it actually reminds me as much of a great and rich history of Jazz saxophone players as much as it does medieval music and the kind of ethereal and ambient electronic musicians that I used to listen to in the mid nineties, artists such as Coldcut or The Orb for instance. These artists at the time that although seemed to fall into a category of ambient, electronic, break-beat or even techno music but seemingly remained outside the sphere and were individual, independent and remained with their own voice.
Another way to express this is to say that aforementioned Coldcut playing Autumn Leaves for me was just simply a beautiful piece of electronic ambient music which I later discovered was considered to be a piece of classic Jazz history and repertoire.  It was years later that I only realised this as a passion for Jazz developed, similarly The Orb were artists that used samples as the crux of their music, some which undoubtedly come from Jazz forms and origin, and so it seems Jazz music does not only work in cycles but crosses the circles too, envelopes, flutters, fleets and uses any form necessary to find it’s way out through the instruments, the individuals, the bands and musicians and to us the listeners.
Indeed the playing and compositions on this record are lyrical, free, pleasant, bright, breezy, strangely familiar and warming by that familiarity. Once again embracing, spacious and what seems to be an almost trademark ECM stamp, that of being free, ethereal and timeless.
To sum up a fine record indeed and as easy going on the ear as it is with a subtle combination of Soprano, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones, Bass and Contrabass Clarinets, Harmonica, Synthesizer and Samples, all played and created by Surman himself, this is not a series of recordings to be underestimated or taken lightly, his first solo recording since 1994, a remarkable thing.
Feel it.
Wesley Stephenson 

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