Exposé Online banner

John Surman — Way Back When
(Cuneiform Rune 200, 1969/2005, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01

Way Back When Cover artJohn Surman (saxes), John Marshall (drums), John Taylor (electric piano), Brian Odgers (bass guitar). For many readers, that list alone puts this on the must-have list. Throw in the recording date of fall 1969, and the mind starts calculating. Think of early Nucleus, think of electric Miles, think of the possibilities. This outstanding recording meets and exceeds those possibilities, being a crystal clear slice of history, when jazz and rock were first starting to come together. And while the sessions were an informal affair between a few musical friends, the result is top-notch, live and spontaneous and grooving as all get-out. Aside from a few test pressings, this material never saw the light of day until the master tapes, thought long lost, were unexpectedly rediscovered in 2003, so this has to be one of the most extraordinary rarities. The sound is amazingly pristine. Surman's playing is masterful, expressive and melodic at times and wildly intense at others, imaginative and fluid. John Marshall is, well, John Marshall, one of England's finest jazz drummers. Odgers is very good here, and while much of his resume is in rock and pop, he was in John McLaughlin's Extrapolation band with Surman. Taylor is on fire at the keyboard, bringing out the peculiar tones of the electric piano and excellent on both his solos and his backing of the others. This is one forgotten gem that we are fortunate to have available, surely one of the best reissues of recent years.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases, 1969 recordings

Related artist(s): John Surman

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Horslips - Collection – Finally a representative collection of the work of this excellent Irish folk-rock band that doesn't focus exclusively on their hits. This 2CD collection - both discs full length, traces the band's...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues