30 January 2008

SOS (Surman, Osborne, Skidmore) - FM Broadcast 1975

This British saxophone trio was highly-acclaimed, but quite short-lived. It was formed by arguably the three greatest UK reedsmen of the time. They'd all played together for several years in different formats like Mike Gibbs band and John Surman's own big band.

The image above is the cover from their only commercial release, which was reissued on CD a couple of years ago by Ogun records and is still available direct from them.

The music is a curious blend of free improvisation, reels and jigs and post bebop. It makes use of Surman's pre-recorded synthesizer loops, which I'm not keen on, but which was probably quite revolutionary in jazz in those days. Certainly Surman went on to use these techniques in solo recordings on the ECM label. For me, though, the highlights of their music is the alto playing of Mike Osborne, who's career was tragically greatly shortened by mental illness, up to his death last year.

This recording is comprised of two radio broadcasts transmitted by the BBC in 1975.

SOS BBC Sessions
Jazz in Britain
Broadcast 29-1-1975

John Surman bs, ss, bcl, synthesizer, e-piano
Mike Osborne as
Alan Skidmore ts, ss, ,dr

1. Announcer 1.17
2. Looking for the Next One 14.28
3. announcer 0.52
4. Rashied 9.00
5. announcer 0.50
6. News 3.04
7. announcer 0.28

Jazz Club
Broadcast 14.9.1975

as above, plus Tony Levin dr

8. Country Dance7.49
9. announcer 0.54
10. QE Hall 14.23
11. announcer 0.18
12. The Irish 4.49

Link in comments.


Boromir said...

Link high quality VBR



folly for to see what said...

Thanks Boromir,
This trio is new for me. I've never listened these guys playing together.
I feel so happy when I open this blog and find new music. Without people like you and the other contributors hundreds of amazing records would be lost.
Music needs new listeners to be alive!

Thanks again for the great work you're doing.

gilhodges said...

The loss of Ossie (both last year for real, and a generation ago to health issues) is/was devastating. Thank you ever so for this post. Osborne and the other brilliant free improvisors in the UK -- along with the South African expats -- have been getting renewed attention lately at long last. Cuneiform have just come out with Eclipse at Dawn, the famed Brotherhood of Breath live set in Berlin '71 and, more intriguingly, a new batch of Mike Osborne performances are set to be released soon. Can't give the details, but I've been told that the results will be stunning. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the unexpected present Boromir! Today's my birthday. I used to see these guys play back in England in the late 60's, so this is very welcome! I hadn't heard these recordings.

dalemcbdnl said...

This is a really fantastic post. Nice rememberance for Mike Osborne who, despite a rather short career, made many great albums. And this is an amazing find. THANK YOU!!

"A Pound for a Brown blogspot" had three or four Oguns posted a month or so back. Worth checking.


Pierre said...

Hello all, it has been a while since I did not post thanks on a blog so ... huge thanks for all the great music that has been found here over the past months.

Here's a link to the Brötzmann/Bennink "Atsugi Concert" LP from 1980 in flac :


I had already posted it at Church Number 9 but it was mp3 so I figured a reup could be used by some readers :).

Enjoy, and feel free to use it on the main page if needed.


Wallofsound said...

This looks a real treat.

So much of this post-70s British jazz is hard to find. There's been a whole scale reissue of 60s British stuff, it would be great if some more of this was more widely available.

Do you have many more BBC broadcast recordings?

Anonymous said...

Good to hear the voices Peter Clayton and Charles Fox again. Both programs broadcast some great music, often by combinations of musicians whose work was not documented on LPs, from a creative high-point in British improvised music.

These are the first such recordings I've come across on the web, and hope there are more out there.

What did the BBC do with its priceless archive of Jazz/improv? Unlike the Peel sessions and other programs none of it, as far as I'm aware made it out of the vault.

Boromir said...

glmlr, belated happy birthday.

interesting what you say about impending release of Mike Osborne stuff. We'll have to look out for those.

I have a few BBC recordings if I can find them. I got one off dime some time ago I think would be of interest - Mike Gibbs band from 1969 (before his first LP). I think I'll post it here in the near future.

I don't think the BBC have looked after their archives very well. A few years ago they were appealing to the public for any old recordings of some TV and radio broadcasts, so I guess the old jazz tapes got recycled.

Peter said...

What a find!! I'll be intersted to see how this matches up to the album. I thought that was mixed - not always making full use of the great potential of each and all of this contemporary consort of saxophones. ~ Or perhaps I am just stuck-in-the-mud, and prefer the laid-back, easy-paced layered passages, and get freaked out by three bats out of hell at once! :D

Peter said...

This is great! I have recently been really into Surman (Westering Home plus his ECM albums as leader and sideman), so this is a treat!

I don't mind the synthesizer myself - go figure!

Gerardo said...

Wow! Thank you so much for posting this. Thanks to a wonderful Spanish Soulseek-sharer and the guidance of Dan Kurdilla's discography, I got most of Surman, Skidmore and Osborne official recordings from the late 60's and 70's. And a few audience recordings too. But not this one! I love S.O.S. Hearing "Country Dance" live is a real treat.

pedda said...

hi i have the origiinal vinyl lp interested?

nothing but jazz&blues said...

links r dead my frined...

Anonymous said...

hello kind sir, any chance of a re-up for this gem? many thanks :)

Andy said...

@Anonymous: Check out this Cuneiform release http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtml/sos.html

Anonymous said...

Andy, would it be possible to repost this - takes me back. I was lucky enough to see SOS at Durham Uni back in the 70's although Ozzy was ill and was replaced by Elton Dean a great gig -- Paul