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The Spaces In Between by John Surman

Preeminent British multi-reedman John Surman revisits the chamber-jazz framework honed-down on the 1999 ECM Records release "Coruscating." Surman states: "We’ve played together a lot now, and as we’ve progresses the string quartet has become much more integrated into the improvisational process too." With that declaration in mind, it is quite discernible that the strings section has become more involved within the give and take dialogues during this album’s evolutionary progressions.

On "Moonlighter," Surman’s tenor sax lines act as a lead voice atop the softly streaming strings overlays amid ascending movements and exchanges with bassist Chris Laurence. Subtle diversity plays a crucial role throughout. In various spots you will hear the group eliciting vivid imagery of perhaps someone tiptoeing through a dense forest, complete with Surman’s yearning choruses. And in other regions of this album, notions of lament, love and internal dialogues with oneself come to mind. Sublime, austere and sometimes open-ended, the music is engineered with numerous contrasts and explorative improvisational frameworks.

The piece titled "Mimosa," is crafted with an East Indian vibe, counterbalanced by Surman’s flickering sax notes and stately themes. It’s a neatly arranged multi-part feast for the mind’s eye. To that end, this venture pronounces the band’s extension of components that were artfully presented on Coruscating. But a few more liberties are taken within the overall scope of this outing. It’s an exquisitely arranged session which casts a prismatic string of musical events. An offering that taunts, excites and acts as a spiritual awakening agent for one’s aural network.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: John Surman
  • CD Title: The Spaces In Between
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: ECM Records
  • Tracks: Moonlighter, You Never Know, Wayfarers All, Now and Again, Winter Wish, The Spaces in Between, New See!, Mimosa, Hubbub, Where Fortune Smiles, Leaving the Harrow
  • Musicians: John Surman (baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet) Chris Laurence (double-bass), Trans4mation: Rita Manning (violin, violin solo #6), Patrick Kiernan (violin), Bill Hawkes (viola), Nick Cooper (cello)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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