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Thursday, February 15, 2018

CD Review: John Surman Trio - Invisible Threads

John Surman (baritone/soprano/bass clarinet); Nelson Ayres (piano); Rob Waring (vibes/marimba)
(Review by Lance).
Surman at his most lyrical. With like-minded piano and vibes (or marimba) the trio weaves a musical quilt of silver and gold. Almost classical in its concept, the music flows. Despite the absence of bass and drums the trio still retains a rhythmic feel. Not immediately obvious but it's there if you listen attentively.
The improvisations aren't solos in the generally accepted format but rather logical extensions of the theme to the extent that you feel any other choice of notes would be less than perfect. Surman's tone on soprano is perhaps the purest ever heard on the instrument. Equally, he also finds a resonance in his bass clarinet playing that few others have done.
Ayres, whom Surman first encountered on a trip to Brazil where the pianist is a major figure, is as close to perfect an accompanist as Surman could wish for. An accompanist and much more. A soloist and foil intertwining with soprano making it, at times, like a Bach or a Mozart fugue.
Waring, the third man, moves deftly between the other two ensuring that the whole thing is watertight.
Initially, I felt let down by the lack of baritone playing (only two tracks) but, upon repeated playing, much as I love his baritone playing, on this album, it is the soprano sax, and to a slightly lesser extent, the bass clarinet that makes this a minor masterpiece although, having said that, the title track on which Surman blows baritone is also a thing of beauty.
Not a party album but one to be taken seriously and listened to without distraction. If you don't, you will miss so much.
Lance.
John Surman Trio - Invisible Threads is available on ECM 2588 6711317.

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