Records - John Surman (4 stars)

JOHN SURMAN

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The Spaces in Between (ECM Records)

CONTEMPORARY

The line-up on the great saxophonist’s latest outing features his own magisterial horn work (on his usual combination of baritone sax, soprano sax and bass clarinet) with jazz bassist Chris Laurence and the Trans4mation String Quartet. The resulting ambience falls somewhere between jazz and chamber music and results in a quiet gem of a recording that is even better than its impressive predecessor with these forces, Coruscating (1999).

The integration of the various elements feeding into this project is well-night perfect. The arc-like structure of the music, pivoting around the centrally-placed title track for Rita Manning’s solo violin, and the balance and interplay of the sonorities and timbres of the instruments is beautifully done. The pastoral feel familiar from much of Surman’s output is always in evidence, and if you are not going to be partying to it, it is one of the year’s most satisfying listening experiences.

(Kenny Mathieson)

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