John Surman Way Back When

Long before ECM swallowed up saxophonist John Surman and made him their servant, he actually recorded some great albums. Among these gems is Way Back When — a session recorded back in 1969. The master tapes were thought to be long lost until 2003, when to everyone's surprise they were found, which may have something to do with Toronto's own Michael King, who has been doing some heavy unearthing for Cuneiform for the last few years. The album itself is a wonderful journey of discovery for those unfamiliar with Surman's work prior to moving on up in the world of jazz. His signature swirling lines are present, mostly on alto, and the baritone howls are always very warm. Pianist John Taylor, this time around, chose the electric mode as the means to get his message across, so this together with Brian Hodges’ electric bass pulses gives the recording an even more all encompassing and warm feel. Deep grooves and tightly executed solos make for an essential album, especially for those who thought John Surman only recorded for ECM. (Cuneiform)