The British composer and jazz saxophonist John Surman has been regarded as one of the foremost European jazz musicians since the beginning of his career in the early 1960s. He has collaborated with artists such as John McLaughlin, Paul Bley, Karin Krog, Bill Frisell, Ronnie Scott, Paul Motian and Jack DeJohnette. "Another Sky" presents an hour of energetic, dynamic music from the pen of John Surman, commissioned by Bergen Big Band for a concert in Parma, Italy, in 2011, with the composer himself as soloist.
Bergen Big Band (BBB) is one of Norway"s leading big bands, and was established in 1991 as a continuation of Bergen Band. They have previously worked with artists including the Core, Berit Opheim, Phil Woods, Paquito de Rivera, Joe Henderson, Maria Schneider, Diana Krall, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Andy Sheppard, Gianluigi Trovesi, Mathias Eick, Dino Zaluzzi, Gustavo Bergalli and Jan Magne Førde. The piece the band commissioned from Terje Rypdal, "Crime Scene", was released on CD by ECM in 2009.
The collaboration of John Surman and the BBB has been a close one, and has existed for several years. He appeared on the band"s first album, "Seagull", which they recorded together with Karin Krog. This recording was nominated for Spellemannsprisen, the Norwegian Grammy. "John Surman has been like a godfather for us in Bergen Big Band. He is a fantastic fellow, and is on a first-name basis with all of us, " says the band"s leader, saxophonist Olav Dale. "This has had a big impact on our productive collaboration, and we in the band really appreciate it. (...) As always, when we work with Mr Surman the musicians give everything they"ve got."
This time around, Surman also invited his friend and collaborator John Warren to take part in the project. Warren was responsible for several of the arrangements, and served as co-producer in the studio.
"Another Sky" is being released by Grappa in August 2014, and audiences will have several opportunities to hear the music live. The entire album will be performed at the Haugesund International Jazz Festival on 9 August and at the Oslo Jazz Festival on 15 August. Later this autumn, on 2 November, Bergen Big Band will present a matinee concert at the Bergen Jazz Forum with Karin Krog as guest vocalist. The last concert in this series will take place on 15 November when John Surman celebrates his 70th birthday together with Bergen Big Band at the London Jazz Festival.