CD REVIEW: John Surman with Nelson Ayres and Rob Waring - Invisible Threads


John Surman with Nelson Ayres and Rob Waring - Invisible Threads
(ECM. ECM 2588. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)


John Surman has teamed up with expat-American percussionist Rob Waring and Brazilian pianist Nelson Ayres for this trio, and the result is full of nuances and subtlety. Surman plays bass clarinet and soprano and baritone saxophones, equally eloquent on each. Waring is on marimba and vibraphone.

This is chamber jazz, with few up tempo numbers, the slower pieces suiting Surman's baritone and clarinet. There are points at which it sounds almost solemn – the opening of Autumn Nocturne could almost be by Bach – before the rhythmic interplay and jazz scales kick in.

Ayres' playing is very sympathetic, and the conversations between the piano and Waring's tuned percussion are rewarding, particularly on Concentric Circles. Surman's playing is exemplary whichever instrument he is playing. Even on the lower notes of the baritone he has a lightness of touch, as if he could hop one way or another. He wrote the material, all of it for this project except for Stoke Demerel.

To some of the tunes Ayres bring a slight Latin spring to the beat, giving this record a light, optimistic feel thoughout, even when Surman is playing his mournful bass clarinet or crying plaintively on soprano.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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