John Surman

How Many Clouds Can You See?

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How Many Clouds Can You See? Review

by Jason Ankeny

John Surman's second album remains his most impressive, anticipating the sound and scope of the European free jazz movement that would blossom in the decade to come -- boasting an extraordinary roster highlighted by trumpeter Harry Beckett, tenorist Alan Skidmore and bassist Barre Phillips, How Many Clouds Can You See? captures a singular moment in the evolution of British jazz, forging a new and distinct sound with few musical antecedents. Surman is a force of nature here, wielding his baritone, soprano and bass clarinet as if they were weapons -- no less impressive is his control, however, and no matter how far How Many Clouds Can You See? may travel, the music never lapses into self-indulgence or swallows its own tail.

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