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Surman, John: Saltash Bells

Long time ECM recording artist John Surman has done plenty of contributing to other artists and band recordings throughout his long career, but he also always makes time for solo releases when he has the opportunity. His latest release Saltash Bells truly is a 'solo' outing in every sense, as Surman plays every instrument heard on this tranquil, sparse, and often times haunting album.

"Whistman's Wood" features a selection of reeds and some bleeping synthesizer loops, whole "Glass Flower" is a solo saxophone piece that sees Surman churning out some lovely melodies. His clarinet soars over some chilling synth loops on "On Staddon Heights", one of the best songs here, while his sultry sax takes center stage on "Triachorum". Surman's ability to create mournful, emotional musical landscapes can be heard on the lengthy "Winter Elegy", as distant synth loops echo in the background and fluttering soprano and tenor sax melodies drift in and out of the mix. The title track is a mysterious number that sees fluttering bursts of sax stab at walls of synths, before settling into a soothing stream of jazzy melodies. This is followed by the quirky "Dark Reflections", complete with multi-tracked clarinet melodies playing in counterpoint, and the upbeat sax/clarinet interplay of the fun "The Crooked Inn". Saltash Bells closes out with the engaging "Sailing Westwards", a fun, bouncy number with weaving melodies, sprinklings of synth loops, and harmonica.

Saltash Bells is a true solo effort from John Surman. Though in spots it gets bogged down in second gear and rarely gets above that, there's enough to enjoy and appreciate here to recommend this to any jazz aficionado.

Track Listing
1) Whistman's Wood;
2) Glass Flower;
3) On Staddon Heights;
4) Triachorum;
5) Winter Elegy;
6) Ælfwin;
7) Saltash Bells;
8) Dark Reflections;
9) The Crooked Inn;
10) Sailing Westwards

Added: August 4th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: ECM Records
Hits: 1440
Language: english

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