Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

John Surman: Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop—April ’69

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

This long-lost workshop session, recorded in Hamburg, Germany, for television broadcast, is a rare document that shows how John Surman and U.K. colleagues like trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and tenor saxophonists Ronnie Scott and Alan Skidmore (who later played with Weather Report) were stretching the form and beginning to incorporate elements of the New Thing into their compositions. The NDR Jazz Workshop, which routinely broadcast these sessions on radio and television, put together programs that brought German musicians in contact with visiting American and British players. The German contingent in this tentet is represented by trombonist Erich Kleinschuster and pianist Fritz Pauer.

The John Coltrane Classic Quartet is clearly a touchstone here. Surman and company meld some of that heightened energy on the opening modal number “Mayflower,” which finds the leader wailing in uninhibited fashion on soprano sax and Pauer turning in a powerfully cascading, McCoy Tyner-influenced piano solo. (Alto saxophonist Mike Osborne also contributes a passionate solo here.) Surman’s lyrical waltz-time number “Once Upon a Time” is a flugelhorn feature for Wheeler, who delivers with impeccable intonation, uncanny clarity and precision in the high register. Skidmore’s bold sheets-of-sound solo here is particularly Trane-inspired.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published