John Surman

Selected Recordings


4/5 stars

His liner note tells with typical Devonian wit of the difficulties John Surman faced in choosing his quota for ECM's :rarum series' look at his back catalogue. A former choirboy whose jazz career embraces delicate composition and unfettered improvising alike, with side orders of string quartet commissions, he succeeds in joining all the possible coordinates in 13 tracks.

His solo meldings of aquatic bass clarinet, hymn-singing recorder and keyboard loops are spell binding. From genial quartet blowing with guitarist John Abercrombie, through the Brass Project's precise Thomas Hardy pastorale and muscular baritone sax jousting with The Trio, to the exhilarating, spontaneous spark of his soprano-drums duet with Jack DeJohnette, this is a tale of consistent creativity from one of European jazz's great originals.

Rob Adams


Steg G & The Freestyle Master, Damaged Goodz and Kim Wilson

(Powercut Productions)

3/5 stars

If British hip hop thought it had a problem with stigma, imagine being Scottish hip hop. This new album from the Glasgow-based Powercut Productions lot shows admirable strength in the face of adversity.

The title track stands out for its strong composition, even if Kim Wilson's voice doesn't quite hold its own among her gruff counterparts (she's later given her own space on Stolen Smile). No Mean City has a strong hook and, for novelty value alone, there's also a squeezebox version of an Eminem tune with Scottish, er, colloquialisms spoken over it.

There are a few instances of underdeveloped rhyming, which doesn't benefit from being juxtaposed with the smooth flow of guest rappers (newcomer Big Livi shines and Braintax is on good form).

The occasionally sneering style of Damaged Goodz isn't always easy on the ear, nor are alternations between Scottish and American vowel sounds. Still, there's solid production throughout and it's ambitious, which is just what the scene needs.

Beth Pearson



2/5 stars

What a blummin' racket! Tom Jenkinson is Squarepusher, one of the most consistent innovators on the drum'n'bass/weird dance music scene, and this is his largely unpleasant new album of sonic scree, white noise, unpalatable turbo-breakbeats and vomitous bass. What makes this album so annoying is that when Jenkinson decides to write gaseous, gorgeous, head music such as the opening, symphonic Ultravisitor and the lovely Iambic 9 Poetry, the effects are lusciously inventive and beautiful. However, for much of the time he is too busy disappearing up his own fundament with various ugly sonic assaults on tune, melody and meaning, which reach a nadir on his utterly noxious jazz-infected live tracks. A frustrating failure.

Phil Miller

Harry Connick JR

Only You


3/5 stars

This was initially due for a January release, but was put back to capture the Mother's Day market. It's difficult not to bear this in mind when you listen to it.

This is a compilation of cover versions of songs from the 50s and 60s and the sometimes unbearably slow tempo of the songs hasn't been updated. Those who were there the first time around will like this. Those who became a fan of Connick jr during his big band escapades will be disappointed.

Still, the man is a career sentimentalist and

efficiently stamps his masterful style on For Once In My Life and I Only Have Eyes For You (the highlight), backed by pleasant classical arrangements. It's accomplished, if unadventurous, which makes it a missed opportunity given the bewildering popularity of crazy upstarts Jamie Cullum and Michael Buble.

Beth Pearson