John Surman

Rain on the Window

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In short saxophone and church organ duets, John Surman and Howard Moody follow up their previous orchestral project, Proverbs & Songs from 1998, with this series of improvisations that track through occasional traditional themes, as well as new compositions that have older values and motifs in mind. Surman is his usual brilliant and staunchly individual self, whether playing his trusty baritone sax, bass clarinet, or at times, soprano, while Moody's keyboards provide more of a foundation rather than being on equal footing. Recorded in Oslo, Norway, moods from joyous and active to introspective or pensive are dotted throughout this program that seems like a musical biopic through the life of virtually anyone. The period pieces "O Waly Waly" and "I'm Troubled in Mind" are played in the kind of preoccupied quietude you expect from these introspective Europeans. But more sober feelings are but a fading memory when compared to the celebratory bass clarinet of Surman during "Dancing in the Loft," or the playfully energetic "Step Lively!" and "On the Go." Moody is at his best when rendering obsidian or rustic memories from days of yore as on "The Old Dutch," or underneath Surman's baritone sax during the pithy, perfectly titled track "The Dark Reeds." If the listener enjoys a variety of folk forms turned into modern music, Rain on the Window may be appropriate, used here and there for any precipitous, or sunny day.

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