CD John Surman: Free and Equal (CD 292199), Audio Other
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John Surman: Free and Equal


  • 1. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Preamble
    2. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Groundwork
    3. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Sea Change
    4. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Back and Forth
    5. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Fire
    6. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Debased Line
    7. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: In the Shadow
    8. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Free and Equal
    9. Free and Equal, for saxophone, brass ensemble & drums: Epilogue
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  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 017065

  • Credits
    ProducerJohn Surman
    EngineerSteve Lowe

    Personnel: John Surman (soprano & baritone saxophones, bass clarinet); Jack Dejohnette (piano, drums); London Brass.
    Recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England in June 2001.
    Personnel: John Surman (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone); John Barclay (trumpet); Dan Jenkins (trombone); Ann McAneney (trumpet, flugelhorn); David Purser (trombone, euphonium); Richard Bissill (horns); Jack DeJohnette (piano, drums); Richard Edwards (trombone); Paul Archibald (trumpet); Owen Slade (tuba); Andrew Crowley (trumpet); David Stewart (bass trombone).
    Audio Mixers: John Surman; Jan Erik Kongshaug; Manfred Eicher.
    Liner Note Authors: John Surman; Steve Lake.
    Recording information: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England (06/2001).
    Photographer: David Sinclair .
    Unknown Contributor Role: London Brass.
    Free and Equal finds its place somewhere between John Surman's past collaborations with Jack DeJohnette and his Brass Project with composer Peter Warren. Less atmospheric than the duos with the drummer and less jazzy than the latter, it still bears the inimitable stamp of the British reed player. It harks back to his pastoral and even medieval leanings and his arranging skills certainly capture the spotlight, his lyrical and often fragile compositions soaring with incredible grace. Compared to his Warren collaboration, Surman chooses a different approach, since his brass section is not comprised of seasoned jazz musicians. London Brass are primarily a classical chamber music ensemble, although some of the group's members clearly show an understanding of the jazz idiom and improvisation. As a result, the leader goes for a more collective and cohesive sound. The brass ensemble often serves the same purpose as a choir, and Surman's beautiful voicings for its various sections surely benefit from that. DeJohnette appears comfortable in this setting. He is allowed on some occasions to turn up the heat, although his main role remains as a colorist. Ultimately, the album does a fine job of documenting another facet of Surman's writing for brass instruments and provides for a beautiful aural experience. ~ Alain Drouot

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