For nearly 45 years, John Surman has been one of England's best known modern jazz musicians. His career began in the late 60s as both a sideman and a leader with such notable greats as John McLaughlin, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Terje Rypdal, Mike Westbrook, Barre Phillips, Albert Mangelsdorff, Chick Corea and many others. He began working with the ECM label in the late 1970s where he has released a string of fine work that continues to this day. Every period of his career is filled with highlights, which is why Cuneiform is exceedingly proud to release for the first time ever this amazing document of the late 60s 'Brit-jazz' scene.
The NDR Jazz Workshop was a weekly show featuring all manner of jazzmen of the day. The taping of this NDR show was around the same time as Surman was recording his second album as a leader, How Many Clouds Can You See, so this is a unique chance to get an expanded view of his formative work as a leader and also at the early work of his musical compatriots who appear with him here. For this occasion, Surman led a ten-piece ensemble featuring the cream of modern British jazz players: John Surman - soprano and baritone sax, Kenny Wheeler - trumpet and flugelhorn, Alan Skidmore - tenor sax and flute, Ronnie Scott - tenor sax, Mike Osborne - alto sax, Malcolm Griffiths - trombone, Harry Miller - bass and Alan Jackson - drums, as well as two Austrian musicians, Fritz Pauer - piano and Erich Kleinschuster - trombone.
Heard and seen on Flashpoint for the very first time since the original broadcast over 40 years ago are five great peformances, including two excellent Surman compositions that he never recorded elsewhere. High quality audio recordings from these musicians from this period are quite rare and video footage is basically non-existent. Captured in crisp, clear black and white footage and in excellent mono sound, this release is a exeptional and hugely important document that will blow the minds of Brit-jazz fans and will open the ears, eyes and minds of those who don't know the great and distinctive work of these fine musicians!
- John Surman – Flashpoint (CD + DVD edition) NDR Jazz Workshop feat John Surman - soprano and baritone sax, Kenny Wheeler - trumpet and flugelhorn, Alan Skidmore - tenor sax and flute, Ronnie Scott - tenor sax, Mike Osborne - alto sax, Malcolm Griffiths - trombone, Harry Miller - bass and Alan Jackson - drums, as well as two Austrian musicians, Fritz Pauer - piano and Erich Kleinschuster - trombone (Raro documento ’60 di questo British jazz hero dell’epoca celebre per il suo lavoro con musicisti del calibro di John McLaughlin, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Terje Rypdal, Mike Westbrook, Barre Phillips, Albert Mangelsdorff, Chick Corea, oltre che per le sue numerose registrazioni ECM..)
Proficient, creative, a first-call, in-demand bassist, Carlo De Rosa has earned a reputation of very high standards. As a composer and band-leader of the quartet Cross-Fade, he also has very high standards, but outside of New York City clubs, this work has not been widely recognized. Brain Dance is set to remedy that situation!
Cross-Fade is a band of top-drawer musicians. In addition to Carlo's work on bass, the band features the constantly inventive saxophone work of Mark Shim, who released three albums on Blue Note and who plays here with an amazing fire and fervor, playing fast and intricate melodic lines as if cutting butter. Drummer Justin Brown is the youngest member of the group and the least known at this time, but his playing here is agile, assured and quite mind-boggling. Pianist Vijay Iyer should need no introduction; he is the rising young piano star of jazz today. Iyer was named the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and he is up for a Grammy in February for 'best instrumental jazz album'.
These are obviously all great players, but great players deserve great material and one of the notable things about Brain Dance is the writing. The compositions give the players malleable material with which to work with; there's plenty of thematic material, but also plenty of room for them to add their individuality. The end result is greater than even the sum of their musical talents and the compositions. The music constantly moves between the modern, avant-garde and electric jazz worlds, never standing still, but taking the most interesting and attractive elements of these worlds and combining them into a new whole. For the listener who appreciates modern, cutting-edge jazz as well as cutting-edge jazz/rock, this album will be a hugely enjoyable musical revelation!
"Great writing and ensemble playing. Deep thoughtful solos."
– Jack DeJohnette
- Carlo DeRosa – Brain Dance Bassista, compositore e band-leader. Feat. Mark Shim, sassofoni, Justin Brown, batteria, e Vijay Iyer, pianoforte.
What happens when you take four highly opinionated, strong-willed and creative composer/musicians and put them in a band together? You might have a volatile problem on your hand...or else you have Gutbucket. From the beginning Gutbucket has had no single bandleader; the result has been an expansive yet unified and recognizable group sound.
With Flock, the group's fifth release, the twelve year-old Brooklyn-based quartet push their composer-driven, art-rock-tainted chamber jazz into new terrain. The group attacks their jazz with the ferocity usually reserved for punk. Their music is filled with layers of mature arrangements and a full-throttle blend of energy, chops, melody, intricacy and noise.
From the beginning, Gutbucket’s music challenged New York’s downtown norm – “a no-holds-barred approach to the jazz-rock paradigm” (The New York Times, 2010) – bringing a completely unique, road-tested performance and a sound that tilted much further towards rock than many of its jazz contemporaries. Gutbucket’s brand of jazz continues to have its signature biting edge, cunning sense of humor and appreciation for the loud and theatrical. Improvisations are woven seamlessly and sometimes unexpectedly into the band’s growing repertoire, and each composer in the group has developed an individual voice that simultaneously supports the collective.
Flock cements Gutbucket’s sound – still wearing the indie rock influences on its sleeve, but delving deeply into all four members’ work as individual composers, assimilating contemporary classical, free jazz, mathy art rock, and more. Audibly, Gutbucket learned from its decade of record-making and has produced its most ambitious disc yet. The band has produced a CD that is hard-hitting yet nuanced, with a new sonic and compositional breadth. Gutbucket’s imagination is in full bloom on Flock; the band sounds exactly like itself: immediate, ferocious, ambitious and inviting. During their dozen year ride, Gutbucket has brought its “impressive balance of passionate lyricism and pummeling angularity” (Time Out New York) to festivals, clubs and concert halls in 33 US states and 19 countries. All of this work and energy and power has been harnessed on Flock, the latest in their series of impressive albums!
“...achieves an impressive balance of passionate lyricism and pummeling angularity.”
- Time Out New York
“Forcing a conversation between punk, funk and free jazz for saxophone, guitar, bass and drums.”
- The New York Times
“A classic case of a band that defies categorization.”
– The Washington Post
- Gutbucket – Flock Il New York Times li ha sintetizzati con: “Forcing a conversation between punk, funk and free jazz for saxophone, guitar, bass and drums.”
A tremendously popular act at home in the UK, their last album, Sensible Shoes (their first with Cuneiform) was a 2009 'Album of the Year' winner with the prestigious Mercury Prize. They regularly play large-scale festivals and concert halls in the UK as well as festivals and shows elsewhere in Europe. So, in the wake of the huge press attention lavished on them due to the Mercury, and having appeared on UK's Channel 4 News, performing their version of the theme music to literally millions in front of the telly, did the mighty Bib decide to tone it down? Turn it back a notch? Definitely not. If anything, Bring Your Own contains some of their hardest rocking material to date, mixing the full throated cry of the dual saxes over loudly amplified Fender Rhodes and heavy bass and drums.
Those familiar with the Led Bib sound will recognize the trademark hooky melodies and idiosyncratic improvisation on this album. The raw energy and style remains, but it has never sounded so confident or accomplished, so genre-crossing and definition-defying. Here eastern melodies tumble into rock and roll grooves, there jazz phrases open up pastoral overtures, and elsewhere crescendos rise and disappear into whirring kraut-rock wormholes. The group has been playing together for over 7 years – and it shows. There’s an electricity here, a ‘group mind’ built out of a confidence in each of the member’s playing that means risks can be taken and their unique sound world cracked open and reassembled time and time again. The band has come a long way from their humble beginnings as Holub’s college music project!
Led Bib were formed in 2003 and have had the same formation since their beginnings; Mark Holub, drums; Liran Donin, bass; Toby McLaren, Rhodes and Chris Williams and Pete Grogan, alto sax.
"This is the sound of a band having fun… like a hot chainsaw through butter." – The Wire
"One of the UK’s most adventurous groups" – Jazzwise
"You’ll be hard pressed to keep the lid on this explosive tour de force of ensemble intelligence" – The Independent
"Rarely have two saxes, keyboard, bass and drums sounded so dangerous yet so compelling" – Observer Music Monthly
"It’s exuberant, intense, varied and exciting."
– BBC Music Magazine
" …a masterpiece of musical foreboding"
– The Metro
"...like a gale of fresh air"
– The Guardian
- Led Bib – Bring Your Own Secondo album Cuneiform per un gruppo che Jazzwise ha definito: “One of the UK’s most adventurous groups”.
As long-time fans of the 'Canterbury School' style of jazz/rock, a very appealing, very English, sometimes slightly whimsical blend of electric jazz with complex rock have sadly learned, this style and sound is rarely invoked nowadays. Planeta Imaginario are a creative and extraordinary six piece Spanish jazz/rock band that take some of the best influences from Canterbury style music and blend it with an original, very Mediterranean feel for a end result that is strongly their own but that is also redolent of 40 years of creative work in bringing jazz and rock together.
To get an idea of what their third album, Optical Delusions, has to offer, think of a great rhythm section of keyboards (Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, acoustic piano, synths), electric bass and drums, influenced by creative rock bands like The Muffins, Hatfield, Caravan, National Health. Be sure to make note of the fact that the keyboardist is a excellent writer and arranger. Now add three jazz musicians on trombone, trumpet and alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, as well as guests on additional saxes, flute and French horn. Give all the musicians great tunes to play and don't forget to throw in a little dollop of weirdness to keep everything just a little bit off the (well) beaten track. This scenario is what you have here.
I would not have expected that the best current exponents of that great Canterbury sound would be a group of musicians from Barcelona, the heart of Spain's Catalan region, but expectations are made to be destroyed and Optical Delusions will utterly destroy you!
"From this album's earliest jittery unison lines and rocked up beats, this Spanish post fusion band sets the genre clock back to the 70's. Funny thing is, with its ensemble moxie and personal peculiarities, Planeta Imaginario wins expressive points in a style we might have given up for dead or irrelevant. The charm is in the details and the quirks.... It reminds us of what was lacking in much fusion of old: a sense of humour on the cultural playground. Could it be that fusion is ripe for a renaissance? Maybe musical models such as this one-from unexpected corners, globally and stylistically, will hasten a reconsideration of fusion's early demise."
– Josef Woodard, Jazziz, July/August 2008