on 11 December 2009
Just had to say that since I first heard a track off this album on Radio Three's 'Jazz Record Requests' about ten or so years ago, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I now have many many John Surman's albums, but this is the best. The combination of synthesiser and wind instruments, which he plays like no other, come together like alchemy, to produce something truly transcendental. For me, this is a very special, unique album, and one I am extremely glad to have discovered when I did. It sent me in all sorts of interesting musical directions. Long live John Surman. And happy 65th!
on 19 June 2007
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.
on 29 May 2010
I bought this album almost 20 years ago and every time I put it on it just grabs my attention. Brilliantly played, understated saxophone explorations by a master of the instrument wrapped up in a superbly evocative set of arrangements. What John Surman sets out to do here is to use his skills to capture the atmosphere of Cornwall. If you don't know the area the scale of his achievement might pass you by, but, if you do... if you've been to these places... it's breathtakingly successful. This is Cornwall, evoked in a way that's so much better than any other medium. Better than paragraphs of words or pages of photographs because this is exactly what it's like: off the beaten track, watching the waves and the misty moors while you slowly take it all in. Beautiful, and for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to relate to what he's seeking to describe in this stunningly good album... perfect, timeless, and an absolute masterpiece.
on 5 November 2007
This covers everything, minimal music (more soul than Glass or Reich), free improvisation, folk, jazz, mixing colourscapes. Wonderful sounds from the worlds greatest exponent of the baritone sax.A brilliant album.