It may have taken more than a decade, but Vitous has at last produced a heavyweight recording, worthy of the talent that has always lurked in the electronic thickets.
Particularly gratifying is his arco playing, a technique too often neglected today. It adds an extra dimension, bringing a sinuous lyricism to bear alongside a pizzicato style that varies from drumming propulsion to sweeping lyricism. On Second Meeting, he bows with the verve of a Czech gypsy; on Peace, he joins Surman in the theme like a tenor saxophone.
Surman is, of course, a major contemporary baritonist. He is so at ease with his material now that he can pace his statements with consummate artistry. On Face and Gears, he produces exciting, swirling statements; on Peace, the big saxophone is gruffly tender. Surman’s soprano and bass clarinet styles are less individual, but quite telling – especially Meeting, Interplay (both bcl) and Meeting (sop).
Kirkland is essentially a lightweight performer, but he keeps the momentum going. Christensen is the ideal ECM drummer, unobtrusive, yet colourful. All in all, a fine recording of great melodic strength and variety.
When Face Gets Pale; Second Meeting; Number Six; Inner Peace (23.49) – Interplay; Gears; Sleeping Beauty; Eagle (23.18)
John Surman (bcl/ss/bs); Kenny Kirkland (p); Vitous (b); Jon Christensen (d). Oslo, 7/80.