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This review is from: Road To Saint Ives (Audio CD)
John Surman's principal disadvantage is that, having been around so long, one takes him for granted. Recently his talents as a composer and arranger of large scale projects has come to the fore but "The Road to St Ives" is classic solo Surman with his distinctly English outlook realised in the very track names ("Mevagissey" "Lostwithiel" "Perranporth" and the like do not exactly challenge New Orleans in jazz song titles.) Surman's tone is wonderfully assured and rounded whether on soprano or baritone saxophone or bass clarinet. While the synthesisers which appear on some tracks (also played by Surman) might sound tinny, they are not nearly as off-putting as those which appear on some of Garbarek's solo recordings. Despite the limited range of instruments, the sound is very rich and full and feels like a real band than a multi-layered studio production. For the uninitiated, this is as good a place to start. For those who have forgotten or overlooked this highlight of Surman's lengthy discography, welcome back.