John Surman / Alan Skidmore / Tony Oxley

Jazz in Britain '68-'69

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John Surman's Jazz in Britain '68-'69 is an overview disc of his '60s band and one of the more enjoyable vintage British jazz records to come down the pipe in a while. These tunes are not the same ones that appeared on earlier albums or compilations. Vocalion has released these five tracks of vanguard European jazz with the hope that since some of these cuts are not well-known it will appeal to collectors of the material. These tunes come from a number of different sessions, as evidenced by the alternate drummers -- Alan Jackson and Tony Oxley -- and the use of different instrumentation, like the three-horn modal piece "Bouquet Garni," from 1968 that places Surman in the company of only two other horn players (Alan Skidmore and Mike Osborne) and no rhythm section, in the configuration that would emerge in the mid-'70s as S.O.S. For most of the other tracks, actually, Oxley is the drummer, Kenny Wheeler plays flugelhorn, and John Taylor plays piano (acoustic and electric). The music here is all over the place stylistically, but it hardly matters because all the players are fully engaged, and as an ensemble, they all shine and were seemingly looking forward to the impact the new jazz would have. A fine sounding, well-presented compilation by Vocalion and Decca.

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