Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
HWright

"Where Fortune Smiles" John Surman/John McLaughlin

13 posts in this topic

I had the opportunity to visit the great jazz department in the Tower Records in London earlier this week (on a vacation to the UK) and I was able to find a British reissue of an album I'd been looking for everywhere without any success: "Where Fortune Smiles" which features John Surman, Dave Holland and John McLaughlin. The album is nowadays generally attributed to John McLaughlin (it is listed that way in the Penguin guide, for instance), but it seems that it was/has been also released under Surman's name and indeed the British CD I found called "The Dawn Sessions" (it pairs the album with an unrelated 1976 Surman album) is under Surman's name.

Has anyone else picked up this disc? It's very worth checking out. Not quite as good as "Extrapolation" (which also has John Surman on it), but very good in its own right. Perhaps because of Dave Holland's presence and the presence of a vibe player, I was often reminded of Dave Holland's current group while listening to "Where Fortune Smiles."

As I am neither British nor an expert on British jazz, if anyone else here knows more about the discographical history of this session, feel free to correct me or add more detail... I believe the session was recorded in 1970, issued in the UK in 1971 and released in the USA in 1975.

Edited by HWright

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the original album and I enjoyed it years and years ago and haven't visited it much since. I do enjoy McGlaughlin of this vintage: he was exploring and growing and really playing great things. I sort of lost touch with McGlaughlin later in the seventies and just haven't been interested in his work since. . . .

Surman is a great player whose work I've really enjoyed as a sideman but I think this is all I have of him as a leader. . . May have to look this lp up in my archive and spin it soon! Thanks for the reminder!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. It was a special period for McLaughlin and that is why I am always on the look-out for anything he did during 1969-1973, whether it is under his own name or someone else's.

Last night I reread the chapter about McLaughlin in Nicholson's "Jazz Rock." It didn't talk a lot about "Where Fortune Smiles" but it did have some interesting bits about McLaughlin's development during the 1960's and the formation and breaking apart of Life Time and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, I didn't even know about THAT book. When I have a chance I may look for that (though my pile of books "to read" right now is so high that it LITERALLY fell over last weekend when I added one to the top!) :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Where Fortune Smiles a lot too, yes I agree it is not quite Extrapolation even though similar personnel. WFS is overlooked and I would argue very important for McLaughlin fans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Pye LP with a rainbow-ish cover. Is that the original? It's not, is it?

I've always likes it well enough. The focus of the palyers seems to wander here and there, but that's the nature of the beast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to provide a more complete reference, see below.

Jazz-Rock: A History by Stuart Nicholson

Hardcover: 454 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 9.50 x 1.50 x 6.50

Publisher: Music Sales Corp; (May 1, 1998)

ASIN: 0825671884

On a related note, Stuart Nicholson also wrote many of the entries in the British publication "The Essential Jazz Records [vol. 2]: Modernism to Postmodernism" by Max Harrison, Eric Thacker, Stuart Nicholson (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000). These books (vol. 1 is about pre-1945 jazz) may be hard to find or even be out of print but are very interesting, full of much valuable musicological and historical detail.

(There is also a book about McLaughlin alone -- "Go Ahead John: The Music of John Malaughlin" by Paul Stump, but I haven't read it and can't comment.)

The great thing about Nicholson's book, by the way, is that it has material about McLaughlin as well as Tony Williams, Miles, Jimi Hendrix, Chick Corea, Weather Report and also covers more obscure groups too.

Regarding the cover of "Where Fortune Smiles": the cover I have (under Surman's name) is tan and has a kind of pentagram on the cover with the names of the artists written around it. The rainbow cover is the version of the album under McLaughlin's name, I believe.

Edited by HWright

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the Go Ahead John book - not too good. Paging through I find many penciled corrections and question marks. Errors of fact, commission, omission, judgment, you name it. It lacks historical and musical knowledge and understanding and research was minimal. It's 168 pages without appendices. Cursory at best - nevermind at worst.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the same cover you do Harold.

Thanks for the information on the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's an excellent Surman discography here:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze8f4kf/surman.htm

If you're not familiar with his post-late 60s recordings I'd urge you to hear 'Stranger than Fiction' on ECM.

Much of his output is solo, solo playing against synth or in choral/chamber settings which probably doesn't appeal to many jazz fans. Personally, I love it.

But Stranger is a marvellous quartet date.

I saw Surman with John Taylor, John Marshall and Chris Laurence a couple of years back and it was astounding. Really high energy stuff. As good as the equally outstanding David Murray/Hamid Drake Quartet atbthe same festival.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember this session being pretty wound up, with very little "space" in the music. An assault of electric guitar, vibes, bass, drums, and of course Surman. I can't think of anything else quite like it, but I'm only going on memory here. Its been a while since I heard this album.

Check out the awesome photo of Stu Martin though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your memory's half right impossible, because yes about half the tunes are as you say and more outside than Extrapolation - but there are some drop dead gorgeous ballads on this disc too - as lyrical as it gets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rainbow cover is the Pye reissue; Where Fortune Smiles originally came out on Dawn, DNLS 3018, with a matte forest green and gold gatefold cover, booklet inside (which most copies have lost). Great heavy session, some of which takes away all of the early Vandermark Five songbook! Side two is amazing.

As for Surman... The Trio (Surman/Phillips/Martin) have LPs on Dawn, JG and Ogun (all are recommended, though not on CD unfortunately) as well as one on Futura augmented by Michel Portal and Jean-Pierre Drouet, called Alors!!! (this is on CD). Surman's two on Deram, both of which were reissued I believe, are also really stellar. So many of those Surman records from the later '70s don't really hit it for me, but those early sides where he stormed away on baritone are something else!

CT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.