Marking his 60th birthday, this new four part Jazz File series profiles perhaps the only musician to have successfully created a truly ENGLISH jazz music - saxophonist and composer John Surman.
Today at the height of his powers as a composer and improviser, Surman gives the lie to the old adage that there is no ENGLISH jazz, only American jazz played by ENGLISH musicians. Brought up steeped in ENGLISH Church and folk music, his work is an entirely natural mix of his childhood influences with his mature years as a world class jazz musician.
Writer and jazz critic John Fordham talks to Surman and traces how he got to his position today as a performer and composer of major works like 1996's Mercury Music prize nominated Proverbs and Songs and 2001's Free and Equal.
As well as an in depth interview with Surman himself, the series features new contributions from Mike Westbrook, Alan Skidmore, John Marshall, Karin Krog, Howard Moody, Barre Phillips and Jack DeJohnette.The first part looks at his early years growing up in Plymouth, his work with the Mike Westbrook orchestra as a dazzling baritone saxophonist and his rise to prominence in the sixties as one of the leaders of a new generation in British jazz.
The second part in the series looks at Surman's early seventies work in a now legendary band with Barre Phillips and Stu Martin - The Trio, and the period of creative turmoil that followed.
The third part in the series looks at Surman's pioneering work with synthesizers, his rediscovery of his ENGLISH roots and his collaboration with American drummer Jack DeJohnette.
The fourth and final part in the series looks at Surman's work in recent years with his longstanding ENGLISH quartet and his series of major works including his 1996 work for choir, organ and saxophone Proverbs and Songs.