John Surman/John Warren: The Brass Project (ECM 1478)


John Surman
John Warren
The Brass Project

John Surman saxophones, alto and bass clarinets, piano
Henry Lowther trumpet
Stephen Waterman trumpet
Stuart Brooks trumpet
Malcolm Griffiths trombone
Chris Pyne trombone
David Stewart bass trombone
Richard Edwards bass trombone
Chris Laurence bass
John Marshall drums, percussion
John Warren conductor
Recorded April 1992 at Angel Studios, London
Engineer: Gary Thomas
Produced by John Surman and Steve Lake

John Surman makes an indelible statement with The Brass Project, for which conductor John Warren leads a fine set of ensemble interpretations of the English saxophonist’s engaging compositions. The result is an album of many moods, beginning with the pensive horns and bass clarinet mesh of “The Returning Exile” and ending with the likeminded haunts of “All For A Shadow.” The filling is equally rich, boasting such deftly realized swings as the Wheelerian “The New One Two,” of which Part 2 showcases Surman’s uplifting soprano work. With the grace of a falcon, he navigates the great brass divide, casting a far-reaching shadow with his outstretched wings. That same soprano mesmerizes in “Mellstock Quire/Tantrum Clangley,” which despite its quiet sheen enables the album’s most spirited playing. The Brass Project is not without its surreal moments, as in the burnished drones of “Spacial Motive,” but for the most part we get such groovier shades as “Wider Vision” (a.k.a., baritone chocolate) and some straightforward balladry in “Silent Lake.”

Original cover

As with the last, the arrangements here explore the full benefit of Surman’s music with the musicians at hand and give us unique insight into the mind of an artist who never ceases to grow. Fans of his solo work wanting to branch out: look no further.

<< Thomas Demenga: J. S. Bach/Sándor Veress (ECM 1477 NS)
>> Jens-Peter Ostendorf: String Quartet (ECM 1479 NS)

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