Interview: John Surman

Composer and performer John Surman (right) is only the second ever recipient of The Ivors Jazz Award.

Following in the footsteps of the legendary pianist Stan Tracey (who received his in 2012), John’s 40-plus year has helped define the fortunes of British jazz.

He began his career in the mid-sixties as a saxophonist and clarinet player, before becoming one of the genre’s most versatile and lauded writers.

Unrestricted by traditional music boundaries, he also composed the Mercury Prize-nominated Proverbs & Songs for the saxophone, pipe organ and Salisbury Festival Chorus.

Among his best-known choral works are Songs for a Coastal Wind and Lifelines.

We caught up with him at the recent Ivor Novello Awards to learn how his work with PRS Foundation is helping the next generation of talent and why UK jazz has never been so vibrant…