103

Curlew: Mercury

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Curlew: Mercury Curlew is a long-standing revolving fusion unit with deep roots, drawing heavily from New York's alternative music scene over 24 years and nine records. Curlew has developed a cult following of sorts, driven by saxophonist George Cartwright's enduring vision. Cartwright contributes about half of the compositions on Mercury and some of the record's most energetic playing, though there aren't any notable weaknesses elsewhere in the quintet.

By the time the brief and ironically titled "Still" erupts from the speakers, there's no doubt this will be an edgy, energetic voyage. It's a burning hunk of a rocker, underpinned by Fred Chalenor's ostinato bass and distorted blocks of sound from the guitar of Dean Granros. After Cartwright takes things to the outer limits, the group pauses a bit to regroup and work through a theme. It gets right back into energy mode with a (seeming) collective improvisation where nobody hesitates to butt heads. Down the road, "Still Still" takes off where the opener began.

Keyboard player Chris Parker contributes "Funny Money," which goes deep into a hefty funk fueled by a guitar vamp and tight drumming. Brief solos gradually turn toward a reverberant dream sequence, which then dissolves right back into the backbeat and then a jumpy group improvisation, only to close out with another dreamy wisp. Down the road, Fred Chalenor's "Ludlow" offers a more regular alternative, anchored by an undulating rhythmic cycle and rippling jauntily to a satisfying conclusion.

While Curlew spends plenty of time working together to develop coherent themes, the real meat of Mercury lies in improvisation, and particularly the more open variety. These players are not at all afraid to take risks, which makes for exciting but demanding listening. (Those who prefer a more structured variety of fusion are best advised to look elsewhere.) There may be pensive moments scattered throughout the disc, but make no mistake: this is testosterone all the way. The Mercury rises high indeed.

Visit Cuneiform Records on the web.


Track Listing: Still; Funny Money; Leaven; Call; Late Date/Ther Is; Ludlow; Small Red Dance; Still Still; Song of New.

Personnel: George Cartwright: saxophones; Bruce Golden: drums and electrons; Chris Parker: keyboards and piano; Fred Chalenor: bass; Dean Granros: guitar.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano" CD/LP/Track Review EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano
by Doug Collette
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Live At the Stone" CD/LP/Track Review Live At the Stone
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Angry Waves Vol.1&2" CD/LP/Track Review Angry Waves Vol.1&2
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Short Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Short Stories
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Seeing Is Believing" CD/LP/Track Review Seeing Is Believing
by Jim Trageser
Published: December 27, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!