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Curlew — Meet the Curlews!
(Cuneiform Rune 157, 2002, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2002-04-01

Meet the Curlews! Cover art

George Cartwright’s Curlew has seen many a change in his ensemble’s 20-year history. Meet the Curlews! initiates another soirée with veteran bassist Fred Chalenor (Land  / Hughscore / Wayne Horvitz) entering into the fold along with core members Davey Williams and pianist Chris Parker. The group has maintained a legacy of improvisation and composition laced with free jazz and blissful interludes of rock and roll. Williams’ playing is like a mangled mixture of David Torn’s tortured effects meeting David Lyndley’s patent slide technique, as evidenced on closing track “Middle and Fall.” Chalenor gives his best Hugh Hopper impression on “Late December,” a sleepy mood-drenched piece. The title track is an uptempo optimistic stab with Williams and Cartwright strutting unison leads. Williams and Parker occupy opposite poles as well with Parker’s classy Ellington-esque fills, while Williams interjects staccato rattles. Each player gets to serve up a piece of bird pie, Parker’s being “Cold Ride,” while drummer Bruce Golden contributes “Hated” (a lurking blues), and Williams presents “Sensible Shoes / Proper Fit.” Stronger free elements assert themselves on “Arm,” which also manages to transition into a swing section. The reflective reprise of “Late December” shows that Cartwright himself has not forsaken a passive resolution for all the dust that’s kicked up in the course of the previous ten tracks. Watch for this album atop best-of lists for next year since I believe it’s got the right stuff to remain vital throughout 2002.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2002 releases

Related artist(s): Curlew, Fred Chalenor, George Cartwright

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