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Artist Profiles

Ted Curson: Atypical Ted

By Published: June 2, 2005
After forming a few short-lived groups in the early '60s, Curson and Bill Barron founded a cooperative group with drummer Dick Berk and bassist Herb Bushler that would tour Europe in 1964, playing the Café Montmartre in Copenhagen, Paris, Holland and Sweden's Golden Circle, recording the heralded album Tears For Dolphy (Fontana). "Wynton Kelly had arranged for someone to get in touch with me who ran the Nice festival in the south of France. They told me they could get me so much work in Europe, and I talked with Paul Bley and he said this was my chance, so we started with a month in Copenhagen...and we went to France and instead of staying two months at the Blue Note, we stayed for six! The head of the union, who at that time was Kenny Clarke, came and told us we had to leave! Curson came back again with various groups, playing the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland starting in 1968 (he plays its 40th anniversary this year and has since become a spokesman for the festival).

A dogmatic approach to playing one's own way that has marked the work of his mentors - Mingus, Miles, Dolphy and Cecil - is what defines Curson's incredibly difficult to pinpoint approach, one that seems to hit every adjective in the book while harping on none. Curson's clear aesthetic is what, ironically, has led him into the non-jazz public as well - the composition "Tears for Dolphy is in three films, including Vincent Gallo's infamous Brown Bunny and he is slated to play the UK's All Tomorrow's Parties festival this summer. Yet it is that iconoclastic perseverance which is so necessary in keeping one's spirit out of the quicksand.

Recommended Listening:

· Ted Curson - Fire Down Below (Prestige-OJC, 1962)

· Ted Curson - Tears for Dolphy (Fontana-Freedom-Black Lion, 1964)

· Charles Mingus - Mingus at Antibes (Atlantic, 1960)

· Archie Shepp - Fire Music (Impulse!, 1965)

· Ted Curson - Pop Wine (Futura, 1971)

· Ted Curson - Traveling On (Evidence, 1996)

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