24 November 2014

Live Review: John Surman at The Brighton Dome Studio Theatre

John Surman

with special guest Karin Krog

The Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, Brighton

Tuesday 18th November 2014


    Performing tracks from his highly-acclaimed ECM album Saltash Bells, Surman began his solo set on the instrument that he learnt as a child at school – the recorder.

    Utilising pre-recorded electronic music isn’t always something that jazz audiences warm to but the sounds were introduced in a way that was subtle and the extra textures added to the performances. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who was relieved not to hear an entire evening of solo recorder).

    Surman brought with him a number of other instruments, including soprano saxophone which he played on the lively jig The Crooked Inn which added contrast to a set that was often ethereal and dreamy.

    What stood out most in the first set was Surman’s supreme command of the baritone saxophone, an instrument that can sometimes be cumbersome and unwieldy. But Surman is capable of bringing everything out of the instrument, fluent in all registers, at times playing it like a much higher instrument.

    The addition of Norwegian vocalist Karin Krog in the second set provided an opportunity to hear more familiar material with their rubato version of Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood.

    Whilst the performance of a Norwegian folk song illustrated how Krog’s soft voice is often more suited to folk and softer styles, she acted as an effective contrast to the strong and robust playing of Surman. (Compare her performance with the duet she did with Niels Henning Ørsted-Pedersen in 1976, available on YouTube).

    With yet another great night of world-class jazz provided by Brighton Jazz Club, I’m looking forward to their 2015 programme.

Charlie Anderson

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