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Curlew: North America

Glenn Astarita By

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The original North America LP was issued for the Moers record label back in 1986. Thankfully, Cuneiform Records has released this gem along with several tracks culled from a 1983 performance at the New York City venue known as Mort’s Place.

Curlew was in the vortex of New York’s early '80s “downtown scene,” thanks to an enticingly unique blend of rock, free-jazz and soul-drenched inclinations. This outing features some downright scorching work from saxophonist/leader George Cartwright, the late cellist Tom Cora, and others of note. The studio performances culled from the original LP are comprised of pumping rock beats, pleasantly off-kilter phrasings by the soloists and free form jazz stylizations. However, Cartwright and associates also pursue abstract waltz motifs and catchy melodies amid a predominately blustery, mode of deployment. On “Light Sentence,” guitarist Mark Howell injects trebly, C&W style twang choruses into the mix, as drummer Pippin Barnett playfully throws the band off course via odd-metered backbeats. Occasionally the ensemble is apt to derail a 2/4 time signature via rapidly executed shifts in strategy and a distinct sense of unabashed abandon. The live tracks consist of heated exchanges from guitarist Nicky Skopelitis Cartwright and Cora.

Overall, this group nestles an array of styles into its repertoire, to coincide with a singular voice that—to this day—projects a sense of newness and originality unfettered by trends or gimmicks. No doubt, they’re in a class of their own. Highly recommended...

Cuneiform Records


Track Listing: 1.Ray 2.Oklahoma 3.Knee Songs 2 4.Person To Person 5.Time and a Half 6.Mink

Personnel: Personnel on North America: George Cartwright: alto, tenor saxophones

Title: North America | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


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