George Adamopoulos | Agia Paraskevi, Athens Greece | 11/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These days I am doing a lot of programming. This CD is locked on my CD player. I am not one who knows a lot of Surman's music and bought this one out of plain luck. I was lucky enough, it is one of my best CDs."
Another wonderful Surman solo outing
Phasedin | New Jersey | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit, I LOVE the all-too-rare duets John Surman does with drummer/keyboardist Jack Dejohnette (and would like to see more of these).
But my all-time favorite Surman records are always his all-solo discs-which is usually the only time Surman breaks out his synthesizer as well as play some piano and recorder (the wind instrument). There's just something special, initimate, when John does these one man overdubbed discs that, for me, far outweigh any of his group projects. By the way his group projects are just fine as well, it's just my preference to hear him in his solo context. These recordings are really a look into Surman's incredibly artistic creative mind.
"A Biography" is one of his lesser known works it seems. It also seems that it is not in print in the U.S. right now (hopefully that will change), but ECM records in Germany has very much kept Surman's recordings in print and can be ordered through them if you can't find them elsewhere, that is (as it's kind of expensive the Euro to dollar conversion).
Anyway I would wholeheartidly recommend this wonderful recording as well as the other 4 discs that Surman has done in solo mode for ECM.
All of these discs were recorded between 1979-1995 and "The Biography" appears to be the last (so far) of these, recorded in October 1994.
I won't even attempt to descibe the music to those unfamiliar with either Surman or this type of music, simply because words don't serve well for the uninitiated. However, if you've ever heard Surman in any context and liked him, for me these recordings are his most personal, intimate, and creative, even if some of his other band projects go down a bit easier and are a bit closer to the concept of jazz.
John Surman's (wonderful) solo outupt (all highly recommended):
"Upon Reflection" (1979)
"Withholding Pattern" (1985)
"Private City" (1988)
"Road To Saint Ives" (1990)
"A Biography Of The Rev. Absalom Dawe" (1995)