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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

on 22 November 2014
John Surman has, for me, become an increasingly frustrating musician as time goes by. A superb player on all his horns, particularly the baritone sax, he has gradually become a player of staid solo recitals, almost wholly without excitement, or any form of rhythmic impetus. That is obviously how he now sees his music, and you have to respect that, but it is a tragedy that the passionate player who emerged with Mike Westbrook all those years ago, and who could have become one of the greats with all the talent he had, should have turned into so somnolent a middle age.
Hence my attraction for this record, which dates back to 1971, when Surman was full of youthful promise and excitement. It is a big band, packed full of fine soloists and with arrangements by John Warren. Half the C.D. is Warren's 'Tales Of The Algonquin' and the remainder four originals also by Warren. The band has a blistering trumpet section and is pushed along by a very lively rhythm section including John Taylor, Harry Miller and Alan Jackson. Also named are Barre Phillips and Stu Martin but, as there are no sleeve notes I am not clear if all five play together or if the two Americans cover for the two Englishmen from time to time. The latter sounds more likely.
Despite the quality of the band and the arrangements, the soloists are the main attraction. They are a fine collection of the young Turks of the time and all play at the top of their respective games. On trumpet Kenny Wheeler takes some superb solos, possibly more aggressive than normal, and Harry Beckett, in his gentler way, also pleases. Malcolm Griffiths on trombone also erupts from time to time. I note Ed Harvey is named in the trombones but I don't think he solos. In the saxophones, Mike Osborn, Alan Skidmore and Surman are featured at length. Osborn, who really was a great musician through all the tragedy of his life, takes an emotional and beautiful solo on 'The Dandelion', Skidmore has a number of lengthy and vigorous hard blown solos, and Surman, in addition to the baritone, takes some aggressive solos on soprano. Would that he was still doing the same.
You know, there's nothing really wrong anywhere with this. When I started this review I was going to give it four stars, but really it is a five star offering.
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on 18 November 2013
for me, one of the best record ever made
John Surman at his best
the Surman/Warren connection made this pure gem of avangarde british jazz like one in a lifetime
listen and love!
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on 1 March 2015
most interesting jeaa
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 May 2017
This was John Surman's final album for DERAM recorded during 1971 with compositions and arrangements by John Warren,
The personnel for this 16-piece ensemble comprised Martin Drover, Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett(trumpet/flugelhorn); Malcolm Griffiths, Ed Harvey, Danny Almark(trombones); Mike Osborne(alto sax, clarinet); Stan Sulzmann(alto sax, soprano sax, flute); Alan Skidmore(tenor sax, flute, alto flute); John Surman(baritone sax, soprano sax); John Warren(baritone sax, flute); John Taylor(piano); Harry Miller, Barre Phillips(bass) & Alan Jackson, Stu Martin(drums, percussion).
The five-part 'Tales Of The Algonquin' suite, inspired by a book of American Indian folk myths, is preceded by four unrelated compositions from Warren with fine solos from Surman, Skidmore, Osborne, Wheeler, Taylor & Miller.
'Tales Of The Algonquin' is a neglected British jazz classic and this inventive big-band album is well worth the search.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2002
This is a much under celebrated effort from 1971.
Great writing from John Warren for Surman and a fine collection of musicians. Fine ensemble playing with Surman sharing solo spots with Mike Osborne, Alan Skidmore, Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett and John Taylor.
The second track, Dandelion is a sublime, passionate ballad, featuring an emotional solo on alto from Mike Osborne. This may be the highlight of the whole album.
The second part of the album consists of the 5 part Tales of the Algonquin. Warren was inspired by a book of Native American folk myths.
It is all propelled along by the drummers Alan Jackson and Stu Martin, bassists Harry Miller and Barre Philips and Taylors insistent piano. Lots of intense stuff from all concerned.
I have as LP and CD. What a lucky boy.
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on 4 February 2014
I have a copy of the original 1971 recording that I bought when it first came out and I will not part with it! I'd love to have a proper MP3 version but it seems my home made conversion will have to do.
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