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Brewsters Rooster by John Surman

This all-world jazz quartet led by British sax great John Surman, rings like a new meeting with old friends. Surman, guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Jack DeJohnette have collaborated within various ensembles and projects spanning several decades, while this album signifies in-demand session bassist/solo artist Drew Gress’ debut appearance for ECM Records. The musicians’ distinctive musical gifts offer a multifarious viewpoint that mirrors the jubilant alliance, conveyed throughout.

The instrumentalist’s personalized touch is incorporated into a rather prolific sum of the moving parts. They launch the festivities with a warm piece "Slanted Sky," where Surman’s blissful soprano sax lines project a quaint theme, accented by Abercrombie’s sinewy phrasings. Moreover, the quartet renders a flotation-like string of events, and the lead soloists generate gobs of counterpoint amid variable mood-evoking perspectives.

The band spawns a harmonious progressive-jazz wonderland, partly due to the disparity in pulses and material, punctuated by Abercrombie and Surman’s melodic unison lines. On "No Finesse," the quartet executes a frothy and lighthearted jazz waltz, highlighted by a cheery primary theme via Surman’s spirited baritone sax work. However, they raise the pitch with some pop and sizzle during "Kickback," as DeJohnette and Surman engage in some heated counter-maneuvers. Here, the drummer prominently enacts his polyrhythmic wizardry.

Surman steers the ensemble into free-spirited avant-jazz frameworks and some bop excursions, offset by loose groove, funk-rock underpinnings and the rhythm section’s bustling support. Ultimately, we wouldn’t expect anything less than superb from a band of this magnitude. True to form: mission accomplished in rather all-encompassing fashion. - Glenn Astarita

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: John Surman
  • CD Title: Brewsters Rooster
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: ECM Records
  • Musicians: John Surman (baritone and soprano saxophones), John Abercrombie (guitar), Drew Gress (double bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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