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Criticism | John Surman, the british cabal

it Is enviable the maturity of the saxophonist and clarinettist John Surman, a living legend of british jazz and, by extension, european, that to his 74 years, he is still playing at a high level, composing and recording, without sacrificing that sense of risk and search that makes a great jazz musician to hold shape.

The saxophonist arrived at the International Jazz Festival of Madrid to present their new album, Invisible Threads, published, as is usual, with ECM. His relationship with the German label has been constant throughout the past four decades, making Surman one of the most emblematic names in its catalog and one of the musicians that has best known how to assimilate and represent the aesthetic lines and creative of its founder, Manfred Eicher.

Accompanied by the same musicians who participated in the recording, the vibraphonist, a new yorker living in Norway Rob Waring and the brazilian pianist Nelson Ayres, Surman offered last night in Madrid in a concert that inevitably referred, almost in its entirety, this Invisible Threads, without too much space for a retrospective on his career, except in a piece such as Going For a Burton, the trio took to the field for its particular instrumentation matter-of-factly. This instrumentation, with the soprano sax or bass clarinet of Surman wrapped up exclusively for the piano and the vibraphone, is as thought-provoking as risky, but the skill of the musicians involved, and the care of the compositions and Bahsegel the arrangements does not be tedious or frequencies —so close on the piano and the vibes— not embarullen, thing not easy at all.

The music of the saxophonist in this trio is a kind of jazz chamber, very supported on the composition and on the provision of organized, what each instrument plays. Said the own Surman, Ayres had flown in from Brazil just for this gig, and this can be a logical consequence —for lack of test, perhaps— to explain the few moments in which the trio was slightly lost, or that things were on your site, but without getting to take off completely, as they did when they played the beautiful Autumn Nocturne, for example.

At the concert there was space for improvisation when the piece demanded, but first of all we attended a showing of the virtues of Surman as a composer. This was more close to the warmth and closeness of a small village —as the Tavistock of which is original— the classic phlegm british, and was not deprived of lamenting what was happening with “this silliness of the Brexit” (sic) just before playing On Still Waters, in that it was another of the best moments of his recital in the auditorium of the Centro Cultural Conde Duque.

exactly fifty years Ago John Surman released his first album as a leader, inaugurating a career that has taken him through all kinds of backgrounds, from free jazz to jazz-rock, without losing coherence or fail to cultivate a personality of its own. Today, the uk remains a creator full and restless who shows no intention to stop writing and playing music.

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